The first "life" of Edmund Spenser (c.1552-99) was written by the poet himself, in allegorical fictions of poetic ambition, envy and anxiety. Over succeeding centuries, readers have tried to revise and elaborate this life with reference to a handful of surviving records and a wealth of dubiously pertinent historical fact and gossip. The nine essays in this volume explore problems in the received tradition of Spenser's biography and suggest strategies for reinterpreting it to an audience newly sensitive to problems of artistic self-presentation. Essays by Richard Rambuss and Jay Farness present the cases for a Spenserian self variously determined by his work or by his imaginative play. Historical essays by Clare L. Carroll and Vincent P. Carey, Jean R. Brink and F.J. Levy differ in particulars but share an interest in determining whether Spenser's career in Ireland was a matter of enviable preferment or invidious exile. Jon A. Quitslund examines the Spenser-Harvey correspondence for traces of the poet; Joseph Loewenstein seeks similar traces in the emergence of typographical form and format and Anne Lake Prescott, in Spenser's assimilation and revision of du Bellay.
Finally, David Lee Miller provides a challenge to the very possibility of literary biography.