On 30th November 1554, at Penhurst Kent, Phillip Sydney was born to Sir Henry Sydney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. He started his education at the Shrewsbury School in 1564 and attended the Christ’s Church at Oxford. He did not get his degree as he decided to complete his education by taking a tour throughout the continent.
During Elizabethan era he became a very prominent courtier at the Queen’s court once he returned from his tour in 1575. In 1577 Sydney was sent to the Prince Of Orange to act as an ambassador for the Queen and comfort the princes on their father’s death. He was actually there to realise the chances of the insurgence of a protestant group. He was called back from the mission before its end.
He was hugely favoured in court. Sydney was a great admirer of arts and encouraged literary artists like Edmund Spenser. He made a mistake in opposing the Queen’s marriage to the Duke of Anjou and for this he was banished from the court for some time.
Sir Philip Sidney Arcadia
It is during this time that Sydney wrote the Arcadia and some say that the pastoral beauty of the piece is vastly influenced by the scenes of Pembroke and the countryside where Sydney had taken refuge during this time.
Sydney is very popular for his critical work in The Defence of Poesy and An Apology for Poetry. What many do not know is that both of these are in fact a single piece of work that he had started composing at some uncertain time in his life but they were published in these two volumes much later after his death.
Sir Philip Sidney Astrophil and Stella
Sydney has also penned the very celebrated Astrophil and Stella which roughly means the star lover and the star. He wrote this during his romantic involvement with Penelope Devereux.It is the first of the trend of Elizabethan sonnets and it contains 108 sonnets and 11 songs.
The songs project the lovers lament that his lady love is not affected by his true love and is always cold towards him even though his love is pure. Penelope devereux married Lord Rich and Sydney married Frances Walsham and they had a daughter named Elizabeth. Phillip was an exemplary courtier and an extraordinary poet.
Sir Philip Sidney Works
He was however, not uninfluenced by the politics and wars. It is said that when he went on an expedition to Zutphen against Spain he sustained mortal injury due to a musket shot. He never recovered from this wound and 22 days later he died due to the affected wound. His death was mourned by all who knew him and the loss is felt till today. He lives on through his works.