Aurelian Townshend

Aurelian Townshend

Aurelian Townshend

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Aurelian Townshend (sometimes Townsend) (c. 1583 – c. 1643) was a seventeenth-century English poet and playwright.


Very little is well established about Townshend's life. He was one of the Cavalier poets, and his masque Tempe Restored was performed on Shrove Tuesday of 1632 and had in its cast Queen Henrietta Maria and fourteen court ladies.

Robert Cecil directed Aurelian's education and sent him to Europe to study. Within three years, Townshend was back in England. He then spent time in France as Edward Herbert's friend and aide who "spoke French, Italian and Spanish in great perfection," but this was for a year. In 1613, he became the librettist of Inigo Jones. He became a friend of Thomas Carew's, and wrote poetry for around five years. Carew referred to Townshend in his "In Answer of an Elegiacal Letter, upon the Death of the King of Sweden, from Aurelian Townshend, Inviting Me to Write on That Subject" (published in 1640), where he indicates that Townshend was more engaged in the political world than he.

From such heights as the court masque, Townshend rapidly fell. In 1643, he appears as "a poore and pocky Poet, (who) would bee glad to sell an 100 verses now at sixpence a piece, 50 shillings an 100 verses" before the House of Lords, seeking protection from creditors. The "pocky"-ness implies that, with his debts, Townshend had acquired disease (although not necessarily venereal disease). Other than these few...
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