John Selden

“A man of deep knowledge and almost incomparable learning…[but] exceedingly puffed up with the apprehension of his own abilities.”
Sir Simonds D’Ewes

In 1612, the young John Selden (1584-1654), a brilliant young historian and lawyer, who was just about to be called to the Bar, was asked by Drayton to contribute detailed historical annotations to the first volume of Poly-Olbion. Confusingly termed “Illustrations”, Selden’s commentaries to the first eighteen songs comprise a rich collection of antiquarian and historical remarks upon the text. As Drayton put it in his introduction, To the Generall Reader, “Then hast thou the Illustration of this learned Gentleman, my friend, to explaine euery hard matter of history, that, lying farre from the way of com∣mon reading, may (without question) seem difficult unto thee.”

Read more about Selden’s life and career

Read more about his contribution to Poly-Olbion

Read Selden scholar, Sjoerd Levelt’s blog