I'd nominate Ben Jonson, a contemporary and close friend of Shakespeare himself. He began life as a bricklayer, then turned soldier and fought against the Spanish on the Continent; and on his return to England settled down to writing plays, of which he produced a great number. The most famous of them are: "Every Man in his Humour," "Every Man out of his Humour," "Volpone," and "The Alchemist." In 1616 he was created Poet Laureate-the first poet to be appointed formally to the office under letters patent. His body was buried in Westminster Abbey, in, it is said, an upright position.