Owen Felltham


Pebworth & Summers

The Poems of Owen Felltham 1604?-1668, ed. Ted-Larry Pebworth and Claude J. Summers (University Park, Pa., 1973)

Van Strien

Kees Van Strien, ‘Owen Felltham's A Brief Character of the Low-Countries: A Survey of the Texts’, English Manuscript Studies 1100-1700, 6 (British Library, London, 1997), 132-74


The merchant, estate manager, essayist and poet Owen Felltham is best remembered for his major, popular, compilation Resolves, which was first published (anonymously) in 1623, went through seven more revised and expanded editions in his lifetime, and four posthumous editions up to 1709. A less important prose work which also went through several editions was his satirical Brief Character of the Low-Countries, written probably in his merchant days in the 1620s, first published in an unauthorised truncated edition in 1648 and then in his authorised edition in 1652. Unlike Resolves, the Character was subject for some years to wide dissemination in manuscript copies, of which thirty-one are currently recorded (FeO 71-100).

Although Felltham published some of his poems during his lifetime, particularly in Lusoria, or, Occasional Pieces appended to the eighth edition of Resolves (1661), his poetry, written over a period on a variety of public and personal topics, some reflecting his literary circle (which included Sir Kenelm Digby, Ben Jonson and Thomas Randolph), was also subject to some measure of circulation in manuscript. His most popular poem, judging by the number of its occurrences in contemporary verse miscellanies, was his lyrical A Farewell (‘When by sad fate by fate I summoned am’) (FeO 23-35). No attempt to collect Felltham's moderately scattered verse and establish a canon was made until the Pebworth-Summers edition of 1973.

Peter Beal