That ingenious Poet Michael Drayton Esquire, my neere Countriman and olde acquaintance…why should I goe about to commend him, whose owne workes and worthinesse have sufficiently extold to the world.
William Burton, The Description of Leicester Shire, 1622
The Children’s Poly-Olbion is rooted in the work of the English poet and playwright Michael Drayton: celebrating it, repositioning it, reinterpreting it and, above all, making it accessible and meaningful to children and young people through multiple stories, reimaginings and reframings.
The son of a tanner, Michael Drayton was born in a tumbledown half-timbered cottage in the sleepy village of Hartshill, but was educated and societally elevated by the wealthy Goodere family, whose home at Polesworth Hall, a few miles down the river, functioned as an informal salon for the inculcation of raw literary talent. According to some sources, Shakespeare also found early encouragement there.
By 1590, Drayton had moved to the heart of London’s bustle, “looking for laurels and patrons”. With a brief digression into theatrical writing for the impresario Philip Henslowe at the end of the 1590s, he produced work in every conceivable genre popular at the time: eclogues, sonnets, histories, satires and legends, but it was his “strange Herculean labour,” Poly-Olbion, thirty long years in the making, which was and remains his magnum opus and most significant contribution to English literary heritage.
For a more detailed biography of Drayton click here.