William Fowler

William Fowler

William Fowler (c. 1560 - 1612) was a Scottish poet, writer, courtier, and translator, active from 1581 to 1612.

He was the son of Janet Fockhart [MHB Sanderson, "Mary Stewart's People", (1987), 91] and William Fowler, a well connected Edinburgh burgess. He graduated from St Leonard's College, St Andrews in 1578. By 1581 he was in Paris studying civil law. At this time he published "An ansvver to the calumnious letter and erroneous propositions of an apostat named M. Io. Hammiltoun" a pamphlet criticising John Hamilton and other catholics in Scotland, who he claimed had driven him from that country. In response two Scottish catholics, Hamilton and Hay manhandled him and dragged him through the streets to the Collège de Navarre.

Following his return to Scotland, he visited London to retrieve some money owed to his father by Mary, Queen of Scots. Here he frequently visited the house of Michel de Castelnau, Sieur de Mauvissiere, where he met Giordano Bruno, currently staying there. He was soon recruited by Francis Walsingham to act as a spy until 1583, by which time he felt his consorting with French catholics was compromising his religious integrity. His letters to Walsingham mention his widowed mother's concern at his role in London and her moneylending activities. ["Calendar of State Papers, Scotland": volume 6: 1581-83 (1910)]

In 1589 he was accompamied by William Schaw on the diplomatic mission to Denmark to arrange the marriage of James VI to Anne of Denmark. He was a paid negotiator for the city of Edinburgh, charged with raising the profile of the burgh ['Marriage and the Performance of the Romance Quest: Anne of Denmark and the Stirling Baptismal Ceremonies for Prince Henry'by Claire Mcmanus, "A Palace in the Wild: Essays on Vernacular Culture and Humanism in Late-Medieval and Renaissance Scotland", ed. L.A.J.R. Houwen, A.A. MacDonald, S.L. Mapstone Peeters, 177] . Subsequently he was appointed private secretary and Master of Requests to Anne of Denmark, when she became James VI's queen. He retained these positions when Anne went to England. He wrote an account of the baptism of Prince Henry in 1594 and taught the queen the art of memory, a subject upon which he also wrote a treatise.In 1609 he received a grant of 2,000 acres (8 km²) in Ulster as reward for his services.

He was part of a literary circle known as the "Castalian Band", which included Alexander Montgomerie, John Stewart of Baldynneis, Alexander Hume, Thomas and Robert Hudson, and James VI himself.

In May 1583, while William was intriguing in London, his sister Susannah Fowler married John Drummond the king's doorkeeper and son of Robert Drummond of Carnock their son was the poet William Drummond of Hawthornden. His nephew bequeathed a manuscript collection of seventy-two sonnets, entitled "The Tarantula of Love", and a translation (1587) from the Italian of the "Triumphs of Petrarke" to the library of the University of Edinburgh. Two other volumes of his manuscript notes, scrolls of poems, etc are preserved among the Drummond manuscripts,currently in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. Fowler's poetry was featured in the 1803 publication by John Leyden of "Scottish Descriptive Poems". Fowler contributed a prefatory sonnet to James VI's "Furies"; while James, in return, commended, in verse, Fowler's "Triumphs".


* "The Works of William Fowler" (3 volumes, vol I 1914, vol II 1936, vol III 1940) Scottish Text Society, Edinburgh
* [http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5960 William Fowler, The Literary Encyclopedia]

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