Abraham Fraunce


Abraham Fraunce is perhaps better known for the distinguished literary circle to which he belonged, including Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Nashe, Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser, than for the verse, academic Latin, drama, and philosophical treatises he wrote on logic, rhetoric, emblems, and the law. His influence in this circle may indeed have been significant, for Steven May has recently argued that he may well have been responsible not only for showing Marlowe early parts of The Faerie Queene in manuscript (c.1587), quotations from which appear in both parts of Tamberlaine (1590), but also for the publication of Sidney's Astrophil and Stella (1591).

Fraunce himself published a number of his own works in verse and prose during his relatively short lifetime, but left several notable works in manuscript, which either remain unpublished or were never published until recent times. Four of them were dedicated or presented to Sir Philip Sidney (*FrA 3), to Sir Edward Dyer (FrA 5), and to Sir Robert Sidney (*FrA 6) respectively. What may possibly have been yet another manuscript presented to Philip Sidney — it would not seem to correspond to any of the items recorded below — was later owned by Benjamin Heywood Bright (1787-1843), book collector, and was sold at Sotheby's, 18 June 1844 (Bright sale, Part II), lot 101, to Rodd. It is catalogued as ‘(Fraunce, Abraham) Yeeld, Yeeld, Yeeld, O Yeeld: Omnia vincit amor. Venus est Dignissima pomo...addressed to Sir Philip Sidney’. For a brief comment on this, see H.R. Woudhuysen, Sir Philip Sidney and the Circulation of Manuscripts 1558-1640 (Oxford, 1996), p. 339.

Peter Beal