Unknown Artist, Michael Drayton (1563-1631), oil on panel, National Portrait Gallery

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This portrait has recently been re-identified as Michael Drayton following detailed technical analysis proving the authenticity of the crown of laurel branches. The picture dates from 1599 and the inscribed age at this date matches Drayton’s own. Following the death of the poet Edmund Spenser in 1599, Drayton was one of the main contenders for the unofficial role of Poet Laureate, eventually being honoured with the position in 1626. For a discussion see: Richard Helgerson, “The Elizabeth Laureate: Self-Presentation and the Literary System,” ELH, Vol. 46, No. 2 (Summer, 1979), pp. 193-220.