- Books, Literature, and Writing
Ben Jonson (Life's summary)
Ben Jonson was born in London in 1572 into a humble family, but he had the chance to become a learned man. He attended the Westminster School under the guidance of the humanist William Camden. Later Jonson was compelled to interrupt his studies and spent some years working as a bricklayer. Then he served in the army in Flanders. Jonson married some time before 1592. His eldest daughter Mary died in 1593, when she was only six months old. His eldest son Benjamin died of the plague ten years later, and a second Benjamin died in 1635. When Jonson returned to London in 1597, he joined Henslowe's theatrical company as an actor and a playwright. Jonson was imprisoned for his collaboration with Thomas Nashe in writing the play Isle of Dogs, copies of the play were destroyed, so the exact nature of the offence is unknown. It was the first of several run-ins with the authorities. Involved in a duel, in 1598, he killed a fellow-actor. During his imprisonment he converted to Roman Catholicism, but he abjured some years later. He escaped hanging by pleading benefit of the clergy. As a famous and succesful playwright, he enjoyed the protection of James I and was appointed "King's poet". He died in 1637 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.