John Harington (writer)

John Harington (Writer)

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John Harington (writer)

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John Harington (also spelled Harrington) (4 August 1561 – 20 November 1612), of Kelston, was a courtier, author and master of art. He became a prominent member of Queen Elizabeth I's court, and was known as her 'saucy Godson'. But because of his poetry and other writings, he fell in and out of favor with the Queen, as well as with her successor, James I.

The work for which he is best known today, A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, called the Metamorphosis of Ajax (1596) is in fact a political allegory, a 'device' in the contemporary sense of an emblem, not in the modern sense of a mechanical device. It is a coded attack, as his autograph marginal notes make clear, on the 'stercus' or excrement that was poisoning society with torture and state-sponsored 'libells' against his relatives Thomas Markham and Ralph Sheldon. The work enjoyed considerable popularity on its publication in 1596.

Harington is most popularly known as the inventor of the flush toilet.A New Discourse of a Stale Subject, Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax by John Harington, 1596

He is also remembered for the political epigram, "Treason doth never prosper: what’s the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

Family life

Harington was born in Kelston, Somerset, England, the son of John Harington of Kelston, the poet, and his second wife Isabella Markham, a gentlewoman of Queen Elizabeth I's privy chamber. He hated the honor of being accepted as a godson of...
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