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Wilson, Arthur, ? 1595-1652 (playwright, historian and poet)



  • Existence: ? 1595 - 1652


Arthur Wilson (? 1595-1652), historian, was baptised in Yarmouth, Norfolk in 1595. He worked as a clerk in the exchequer before serving in the household of Robert Devereux, third earl of Essex, becoming a gentleman-in-waiting. In 1620 Essex raised a company of foot in support of Frederick, the Elector of the Palatinate, and Wilson joined this expedition, fighting in the Low Countries and Germany. Wilson became secretary to the Earl, but left his service in 1631 and, wishing to further his education, entered Trinity College, Oxford, as a gentleman commoner. At this time Wilson wrote both poetry and plays, several of which were performed by the King's Company with some success. Becoming disillusioned with academic life Wilson left Oxford and joined the household of Robert Rich, earl of Warwick, with whom he went once more to the Low Countries on a military expedition. On the outbreak of the civil war, Warwick became important in the Parliamentarian cause. Wilson took no part in the fighting, acting as a steward on the earl's estates in Essex. In 1644 Wilson began to write an account of his life. He took five years to complete the work, which was intended to highlight God's mercies to him throughout his eventful life. It would prove to be an important description of life in Stuart England. In 1653, a year after his death, Wilson's History of Great Britain, an account of the life and reign of James VI and I, was published.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:


Memoirs by Arthur Wilson

Reference Code: GBR/0012/MS Add.33
Scope and Contents The following note is written by Knight on the fly-leaf opposite p. 1: 'These appear to be Memoirs written by Arthur Wilson who published a History of Great Britain in 1653. See Wood's Athenæ Oxonienses, Vol. II. Col. 91, 92, 93, 94, in the Article of Robert Devreux, Earl of Essex. See the Initials A. W. in p. 57 of this Volume.' 1. 'Observations of God's Providence in the tract of my life.' pp. 1-66, completed on pp. 199-202. This Journal begins in A.D. 1602, 'When I was a litle boy...
Dates: 1649-1710
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