Sidney, Sir Philip
Sir Philip Sidney 1554–1586
English poet, prose writer, essayist, and playwright.
The following entry contains critical essays focusing on Sidney's role in the Age of Spenser. See also Sir Philip Sidney Poetry Criticism.
Regarded by many scholars as the consummate Renaissance man, Sidney was a prominent and highly influential literary figure, scholar, and courtier of the Elizabethan period. Almost legendary in his own lifetime, Sidney is remembered today for the romance The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia (1590), the most recognized work of English prose fiction of the sixteenth century; for Astrophel and Stella (1591), the first sonnet sequence in English; and for The Defence of Poesie (1595), which is, in Arthur F. Kinney's words, "the first (and still most important) statement of English poetics."
Born in Kent to aristocratic parents—Sir Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland, and Mary Dudley, sister of the Earl of Leicester—Sidney received the financial, social, and educational privileges of the English nobility and was trained as a statesman. In 1564 he entered the Shrewsbury School on the same day as Fulke Greville, who became his lifelong friend and later gained renown as a scholar and Sidney's biographer. Sidney matriculated at Christ's Church, Oxford, in 1568, where he studied grammar, rhetoric, and religion. He left three years later without taking a degree, possibly due to an outbreak of plague that forced the university to close temporarily. Sidney continued his education with a "Grand Tour" of continental Europe, learning about politics, languages, music, astronomy, geography, and the military. During this time he became acquainted with some of the most prominent European statesmen, scholars, and artists; he also became friends with the humanist scholar Hubert Languet, with whom he spent a winter in Germany. Sidney's correspondence with Languet is a valuable source of information about Sidney's life and career. Languet's censure of Catholicism and his espousal of Protestantism, as well as his attempts to encourage Queen Elizabeth I to further this cause in England, are believed to have strongly influenced Sidney's religious and political convictions. After further travels, including through Hungary, Italy, and Poland,
Sidney returned to England in 1575, where he promptly established himself as one of the Queen's courtiers. Although he pursued literary interests, associating with such prominent writers as Greville, Edward Dyer, and Edmund Spenser, Sidney's chief ambition was to embark on a career in public service. Aside from acquiring some minor appointments, he was never given an opportunity to prove himself as a statesman. Critics speculate that his diplomatic career was deliberately discouraged by Elizabeth, whose policy of caution in handling domestic and religious matters conflicted with Sidney's ardent support of Protestantism. In 1578 Sidney wrote and performed in, along with the Queen herself, an "entertainment," or pageant, entitled The Lady of May. He also began writing the first version of Arcadia. After writing a letter towards the end of 1579 which urged the Queen not to enter into a planned marriage with the Roman Catholic Duke of Anjou, heir to the French throne, Sidney found himself in strained relations with Elizabeth. Denied court duties, Sidney lived at the estate of his sister Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, and occupied himself with writing: probably in 1580 he completed the Old Arcadia, and began The Defence of Poesie; he began Astrophel and Stella around 1581. Also in 1581 Sidney took part in a performance for the Queen of the "entertainment" The Four Foster Children of Desire, which scholars believe was at least partially written by Sidney. In 1583 Sidney was knighted so that he might complete an assignment for the Queen. Sidney began a major revision of the Arcadia in 1584 and in the following year began work on a verse translation of the psalms, which was later finished by his sister. In 1585 he was appointed governor of Flushing, an area comprising present-day Belgium and the Netherlands, where the English were involved in the Dutch revolt against Spain. In 1586 he participated in a raid on a Spanish convoy at Zutphen in the Netherlands. Struck on the leg by a musket ball, Sidney developed gangrene and died a few weeks later, just one month short of his thirty-second birthday. His death was marked with a lavish, ceremonial state funeral at St. Paul's cathedral in London.
All of Sidney's major works were published posthumously, although many of them circulated among friends and relatives in handwritten copies. Although Sidney died before completing the Arcadia and requested on his deathbed that his manuscripts be burned, an edition, now referred to as the New Arcadia, was published in 1590 containing the revised chapters. Drawing on elements of Italian pastoral romance and Greek prose epic, the plot of the Arcadia concerns two princes who embark on a quest for love in the land of Arcadia, fall in love with two daughters of the Arcadian king, and eventually, after a series of mistaken identities and misunderstandings, marry the princesses. Elaborately plotted with a nonchronological structure, interspersed with poetry, and characterized by extensive alliteration, similes, paradoxes, and rhetorical devices, the Arcadia is artificial, extravagant, and difficult to read by modern standards. A printing of a composite Arcadia was made in 1593, comprising Books I-III of the New Arcadia and Books III-V of the Old Arcadia. In 1909 Bertam Dobell announced that he had discovered original manuscripts of the Arcadia, including one of the Old Arcadia which Sidney had presented to his sister. This Old Arcadia, a relatively straightforward, unadorned, and much shorter version than the Arcadias published previously, was included in The Complete Works in 1926. Astrophel and Stella, regarded by many critics as Sidney's masterpiece, was published in 1591. Its 108 sonnets comprise a sequence which tells the story of Astrophel (also called Astrophil), his passion for Stella, her conditioned acceptance of his advances and, finally, his plea to be released from his obligation to her. An Apologie for Poetrie was published by Henry Olney without authorization early in 1595. William Ponsonby, who had registered The Defence of Poesie late in 1594, gained all of Olney's copies. The Defence of Poesie responds to Stephen Gosson's School of Abuse (1579), which charges that modern poetry exerts an immoral influence on society by presenting lies as truths and instilling unnatural desires in its readers. Sidney answered Gosson's invective by asserting that the poet provides a product of his imagination which does not pretend to literal fact and therefore cannot present lies. Sidney declares that the purpose of poetry is to instruct and delight.
Memoirs of Sidney began almost at once upon his death. Spenser wrote an elegy entitled "Astrophel" and Edmund Molyneux wrote of him in Holinshed's Chronicles, published in 1587. Greville's hagiographie biography even made use of spurious stories to further Sidney's reputation. Various critics contend that the creativity and concern for literary detail intrinsic to Sidney's prose style in the New Arcadia were valuable innovations which encouraged experimentation and greater attention to craftsmanship among Renaissance writers. Astrophel and Stella popularized the sonnet sequence form and inspired many other poets. In a seminal study of Sidney's poetry, Theodore Spencer cited his "direct and forceful simplicity, his eloquent rhetoric, his emotional depth and truth, [and] his control of movement, both within the single line and throughout the poem as a whole" as innovations to poetic form which exerted a profound impact on subsequent poets. C. S. Lewis wrote that Astrophel and Stella "towers above everything that had been done in poetry … since Chaucer died," and that "the fourth [sonnet] alone, with its hurried and (as it were) whispered metre, its inimitable refrain, its perfect selection of images, is enough to raise Sidney above all his contemporaries." More recently Ronald Levao has asserted that despite evidence of faulty logic, the Defence of Poesie is "one of the most daring documents of Renaissance criticism." Although he has been widely respected and read for centuries, Sidney's popularity has suffered a setback in modern times, leading Duncan-Jones to observe that Sidney is "the least-read of the major Elizabethans."
The Lady of May (drama) 1578
The Four Foster Children of Desire (drama) 1581
The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [New Arcadia] (prose) 1590
Astrophel and Stella (poetry) 1591
The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [composite Arcadia] (prose) 1593
The Defence of Poesie [also published as An Apologie for Poetrie] (essay) 1595
Certaine Sonets (poetry) 1598
The Psalms of David (with Mary Sidney Herbert) [translator] (poetry) 1823
The Correspondence of Sir Philip Sidney and Hubert Languet (letters) 1845
The Complete Works of Sir Philip Sidney. 4 vols. (poetry, essays, letters) 1912-26
The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia [Old Arcadia ] (prose) 1926
(The entire section is 87 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney and Political Pastoral," in Sir Philip Sidney, Longmans, Green & Co., 1984, pp. 91-108.
[In the following excerpt from an essay written in 1960, Muir discusses contemporary and modern opinions of the Arcadia and Sidney's purpose in writing and rewriting the work.]
The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia is the only English masterpiece which has been allowed to go out of print. It has never been included in a popular series of classics and one must conclude that it is read now only by scholars. It has, indeed, a reputation for tediousness. Mr. T. S. Eliot, though writing in defence of the Countess of Pembroke's circle, dismissed Arcadia as 'a monument of dullness'; Mr. F. L. Lucas called it 'a rigmarole of affected coxcombry and china shepherdesses'; Virginia Woolf described her reactions as 'half dreaming, half yawning'; and dullness is the one fault which the general reader neither can nor should forgive. Yet for three generations the book was read by everyone interested in literature, and there were thirteen editions between 1590 and 1674. Its popularity was partly due, like that of Rupert Brooke's poetry, to the legend attaching to the author; but it was perused by dramatists in search of plots—with Shakespeare at their head—by those who loved romances and by those who liked their moral lessons presented in a delightful form, by Charles I and by John Milton who...
(The entire section is 4737 words.)
SOURCE: "Sir Philip Sidney and the Idea of History," in Bibliotheque D' Humanisme et Renaissance, Vol. XXVI, 1964, pp. 608-17.
[In the following essay, Levy discusses why Sidney believed poetry superior to history as a teacher of morality.]
Sometime around the end of the sixteenth century a change took place in the reasons men gave for writing history. The nature of the change is obvious to anyone who has compared the works of Sir John Hayward or the Annals of William Camden with the writing of Hall or Holinshed, let alone with the Mirror for Magistrates. To put the matter crudely, early in the century history was a branch of moral philosophy, later a branch of politics.1 During this crucial period, few Englishmen wrote on the theory of history at all; and of those who did, the most profound was probably Sir Philip Sidney, who touched on history only secondarily in his Defense of Poesy, but who, we know, was strongly interested in history and who was a friend of at least one of the important historians of the day. Thus, even though we know that Sidney's Defense concerned itself with history only as a side issue, the views expressed in the essay were of importance, especially when they are held against a background of a great paucity of other material.
What was the older view? History and poetry together had been considered branches of rhetoric...
(The entire section is 4431 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney the Narrator," in The Old Arcadia, Yale University Press, 1965, pp. 318-31.
[In the following excerpt, Lanham explores the complex, shifting, and sometimes ambiguous narration of the Old Arcadia.]
An age that cherishes the memory of Henry James can hardly be expected to allow Sidney the narrator to escape unscathed. The spectacle of an author frankly telling a tale in propria persona, commenting on it as it flows from his pen in asides to his "Dear Ladies," obviously regulating the unfolding of the narrative, makes the modern reader as uncomfortable as James felt in the loquacious I've-got-no-secrets company of Trollope. Sidney seems in many places to give the show away, to tell us twice over how we should feel. Myrick comments: "In the original version, where Sidney so often disregards the principles of the Defence, he frequently drops his role of 'maker' and comments upon the story."1 But, as we have seen, the "message" of the Old Arcadia may not be quite so obvious, the reader's response not so clearly predictable, as has formerly been thought. It is logical, then, to seek in Sidney as narrator a figure more complex than the chatty, brotherly, facile moralizer he at first seems to be.
The narrator of the Old Arcadia is ostensibly Philip Sidney—no persona is involved. He tells the tale to his sister and her friends. If he...
(The entire section is 5050 words.)
SOURCE: "A Feeling Skill," in The Poetry of Sir Philip Sidney: An Interpretation in the Context of His Life and Times, Liverpool University Press, 1974, pp. 136-54.
[In the following excerpt, Nichols analyzes several sonnets from Astrophil and Stella and contends that they demonstrate that Sidney was a master of meter and a precise, imaginative poet.]
One of the fascinations of any sonnet-sequence is the pull between our inclination to read each sonnet as a self-contained poem and our knowledge that it is also part of a larger whole. To revert to the metaphor of Astrophil and Stella as a play—each sonnet has its own distinctive personality, and this personality interacts with the personalities of the other sonnets. Such a comment as this is particularly relevant to Astrophil and Stella: 'Every sonnet is a compressed drama, and every sonnet-sequence is a greater drama built up of such dramatic moments.'1 Since I have discussed some sonnets, or parts of them, with reference to the main question of how we should read the drama as a whole, I shall in this chapter discuss in a little detail some of the 'dramatic moments'. I shall choose among those which seem to me to be most successful and (a further indication of the generally high standard maintained in the sequence) they will be sonnets which I have more or less neglected up to now.
(The entire section is 6306 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney in Life, Legend, and in His Works," in Sir Philip Sidney: A Study of His Life and Works, Cambridge University Press, 1977, pp. 107-22.
[In the following excerpt, Hamilton discusses Sidney's noble background, frustrated political career, and legendary reputation.]
'Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them': the aphorisms are used by Maria, in Twelfth Night, to gull Malvolio. To the Renaissance mind, an aspiration to greatness is overweening in a pompous major-domo. He is mocked by greatness when his actions prove him to be only a great fool. Yet the aspiration itself, the intense desire for worldly honour and fame, 'that last infirmity of noble mind', marks most men of the time. In particular, it marks Sir Philip Sidney. Because he was born great, great expectations were held for him throughout his life; after his death, his reputation for personal greatness helped to establish the legend that he was the ideal Renaissance gentleman. Like Malvolio, however, he has been mocked by greatness: the legend thrust upon him has prevented any understanding of the life he actually lived by placing a barrier between his life and works, and between both and the modern reader.
Sidney was born great. He was the eldest son of a family distinguished on his father's side for several generations by personal service to English kings. This...
(The entire section is 8180 words.)
SOURCE: "Astrophil and Stella: A Radical Reading," in Spenser Studies: A Renaissance Poetry Annual III, University of Pittsburg Press Vol. III, 1982, pp. 139-91.
[In the following excerpt, Roche contends that Sidney meant Astrophil to represent a negative example, someone who "must end in despair because he never learns from his experience."]
Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, although the third English sequence in order of publication, holds pride of place as the most influential of the English sequences. Its author was a young nobleman who died a hero's death in 1586; its heroine a beautiful lady of the court. The story of Astrophil's love for Stella, as told in the poem, was well known through circulated manuscripts before it appeared posthumously in 1591 in a pirated edition by Thomas Newman and in 1598 in an edition authorized by Sidney's sister, the countess of Pem-broke, which contained 108 sonnets among which were interspersed eleven songs.1 The appreciation of Sidney's achievement over that of his predecessors is clearly announced by his first critic, Thomas Nashe, in the preface to the 1591 edition:
Tempus adest plausus aurea pompa venit, so endes the Sceane of Idiots, and enter Astrophel in pompe. Gentlemen that haue seene a thousand lines of folly, drawne forth ex vno puncto impudentiae, & two famous Mountains to goe...
(The entire section is 4143 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney and Political Pastoral," in Poetry and Politics in the English Renaissance, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984, pp. 91-108.
[In the following excerpt, Norbrook discusses Sidney's pastoral writings, emphasizing that Sidney imbued them with his political thought.]
Spenser dedicated The Shepheardes Calender to Sir Philip Sidney, a man who was acclaimed by his contemporaries as the ideal courtier, the embodiment of chivalric magnanimity and gracefulness of speech. It was especially appropriate to dedicate a pastoral work to him because Sidney himself assumed the persona of the 'shepherd knight' in tournaments at court and was the author of pastoral poetry.1 Sidney had helped to introduce the new courtly forms of pastoral to England. He was well acquainted with Sannazaro's Arcadia and admired the Italian poet's gift of verbal harmony and courtly metrical virtuosity and purity of diction.2 In 1578 or 1579 he wrote a pastoral entertainment, The Lady of May, which helped to inaugurate the cult of Elizabeth as a pastoral goddess. The relative merits of the May Lady's two suitors, a shepherd and a forester, were debated and at the end Elizabeth was praised as the true Lady of May. Sidney became so closely associated with pastoral verse that after his death in 1586 one elegist, George Whetstone, assumed that he had written The Shepheardes Calender,...
(The entire section is 7950 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney's Feigned Apology," in Renaissance Minds and Their Fictions: Cusanus, Sidney, Shakespeare, University of California Press, 1985, pp. 134-56.
[In the following excerpt, Levao examines some of the difficulties and paradoxes in Sidney's An Apology for Poetry.]
Any attempt to discuss Sidney's theory of poetic fictions proves to be something of a paradox, since An Apology for Poetry opens with a warning not to take theories too seriously. There Sidney compares himself to his master in horsemanship, John Pietro Pugliano, who, not content to teach his young students the practical side of his profession, "sought to enrich [their] minds with the contemplations therein." So mighty does his art appear, thanks to the light of self-love, that "if I had not been a piece of a logician before I came to him, I think he would have persuaded me to have wished myself a horse" (p. 95).1 Following his master, Sidney opens with a theoretical justification of his own vocation, poetry, but with such a precedent, the reader may wonder if Sidney will persuade him to wish himself a poem (which is, in fact, where Sidney's Astrophil ends up in Sonnet 45 of Astrophil and Stella).
The paradoxical opening of the Apology sets the tone for the rest of the work, which is filled with contradictions and shifts of emphasis. Its studied carelessness and playfulness are in marked...
(The entire section is 9504 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney and His Queen," in The Historical Renaissance: New Essays on Tudor and Stuart Literature and Culture, edited by Heather Dubrow and Richard Strier, The University of Chicago Press, 1988, pp. 171-96.
[In the following excerpt, Quilligan explores Sidney's ambitions, career, and concern with his image, in the context of the Elizabethan court.]
… In pursuit of chivalric bravado, if not victory for the Dutch rebels, during a skirmish with Spanish troops, Sidney took off his thigh armor before charging the enemy and received the bullet that, entering at the knee and shattering the thigh bone, left the festering wound from which he soon died at the age of thirtyone.20 Before narrating the story of Sidney's tragic end in 1586, two years before the defeat of the Armada, [Sir Fulke] Greville outlines a map of his hero's imperial imagination in two chapters that encompass a remarkable analysis of the possible strategies open to England in what should have been, according to Greville's account of Sidney's thought, a concerted and strategic war with Spain. After canvassing all the political interconnections between such disparate parts of the map as Poland and the Ottoman Empire (Sidney's imperial politics are global), he settled, so Greville records, on taking the war with Spain to the New World. Sidney's intention was to plant England's empire on the mainland of America, thereby draining...
(The entire section is 6320 words.)
SOURCE: "Sir Philip Sidney: The Shepherd Knight," in The Rites of Knighthood: The Literature and Politics of Elizabethan Chivalry, University of California Press, 1989, pp. 55-78.
[In the following excerpt, McCoy examines the courtly politics of The Four Foster Children of Desire, an "entertainment" staged by Sidney for Queen Elizabeth.]
Sir Philip Sidney was the son of Robert Dudley's sister, and the Earl of Leicester was a powerful influence on his nephew's brief career. Philip's father, Sir Henry Sidney, saw the Dudley connection as the family's greatest distinction, urging him, "Remember, my son, the noble blood you are descended of by your mother's side."1 When drawing up their own pedigree, the Sidneys employed their distinguished relative's herald, Robert Cooke, who obliged them with characteristic creativity. Cooke began by preparing a bogus genealogical roll tracing the descent of a fictive William de Sydney down to the fourteenth century, which he in turn used as "evidence" for the genealogy he presented as his own—the initial forgery "written on a narrow strip of parchment, which is in a very brittle state. The discoloured appearance of the parchment and the character of the handwriting suggest an attempt to feign antiquity for the Roll; which must have in fact been written little before 1580."2 Cooke's forgery apparently worked, flattering as it was to the...
(The entire section is 9520 words.)
SOURCE: "Puritans Versus Royalists: Sir Philip Sidney's Rhetoric at the Court of Elizabeth I," in Sir Philip Sidney's Achievements, M. J. B. Allen, Dominic Baker-Smith, Arthur F. Kinney, with Margaret M. Sullivan, AMS Press, 1990, pp. 42-56.
[In the following excerpt, Kinney discusses Sidney's political statements, both masked and explicit, and his bids for authority in Queen Elizabeth's court.]
One of the few encounters between Sir Philip Sidney and Elizabeth I that is documented in some detail is his appearance before her at Whitehall in 1581 during the performance of a court spectacle called The Four Foster Children of Desire. He is the third foster child to appear, following the earl of Arundel and Lord Windsor and preceding his friend Fulke Greville, and his striking appearance suggests the central role he means to play at court:
Then proceeded M. Philip Sidney, in very sumptuous maner, with armor part blewe, & the rest gilt & engraven, with foure spare horses, having caparisons and furniture veri riche & costly, as some of cloth of gold embroidred with pearle, and some embrodred with gold and silver feathers, very richly & cunningly wrought, he had foure pages that rode on his four spare horses, who had cassock coats & Venetian hose al of cloth of silver, layd with gold lace, & hats of the same with golde bands, and white fethers,...
(The entire section is 7246 words.)
SOURCE: "Sidney's Official Indirection," in Dazzling Images: The Masks of Sir Philip Sidney, Associated University Presses, 1991, pp. 41-6.
[In the following excerpt, Hager considers Sidney's choice of words in his famous letter to the Queen, and contends that the advice may not have met with her disapproval.]
… Advice to the Queen (1579)
In Sidney's most serious political moment, when his uncle, Robert Dudley, the Earl of Leicester, apparently had him write a public letter to pressure the queen to terminate negotiations for marriage with the Duc d'Alençon—"A Letter to Queen Elizabeth Touching Her Marriage With Monsieur"—Sidney's witty and courtly—though pedantic—persona sets up distinctions and then undercuts them, most noticeably in his description of the French duke's personality. For example, his smooth "voice" juxtaposes d'Alençon's imagination as well as his personal education as prods to incite aspiration to power, but then undercuts the whole concept of such a desire: "he, both by his own fancy and by his youthful governors embracing all ambitious hopes, having Alexander's image in his head, but perchance ill painted" (52.19). In miniature this ironic procedure is a kind of rug-pulling. The reader is made to expect, by a courtly voice controlling rather majestic language, an observation about those hopes and the antithetical function of inherent imaginings as...
(The entire section is 2239 words.)
SOURCE: "A Woman's Touch: Astrophil, Stella and 'Queen Vertue's Court,'" in ELH VOL. 63, No. 3, Fall, 1996, pp. 550-70.
[In the following excerpt, Minogue discusses what Sidney's Sonnets 9 and 83 reveal about the complex relationship between the poet and Queen Elizabeth.]
When Sidney, in 1581, presented to his Queen the New Year's gift of a jewel in the shape of a diamondbedecked whip, how did she take it? Not, we presume, lying down, since in this relationship it had already been made clear to Sidney who had the whip-hand. To be in a position to exchange New Year's gifts with the Queen was itself a mark of favor (one used by Steven May as a means of confirming who was an actual courtier to Elizabeth rather than a court hanger-on).1 Sidney was in that position in both 1580 and 1581; but those dates punctuate a period when at least some commentators see him as having been banished from Court because of pressing too strongly the case against Elizabeth's possible marriage to Alençon.2 Given that in 1579 John Stubbs had had his writing hand amputated for an over-fierce public attack on the Alençon suit (a medievally brutish form of retributive censorship), Sidney must have known when he was preparing the Alençon letter that his favored position was at the very least at risk, if not his own person; at that point he clearly thought the risk worth taking.3 The long period of...
(The entire section is 6678 words.)
SOURCE: "When Is a Defense Not a Defense? Sidney's Paradoxiacal Apology for Poetry," in Squitter-Wits and Muse-Haters, Wayne State University Press, 1996, pp. 61-94.
[In the following excerpt, Herman reconsiders the Apology for Poetry and its stance regarding poetry's superiority to history in the light of two of Sidney's letters.]
… "Do as I Say, Not as I Do": Sidney's Letters and the Apology
On May 22, 1580, a few months after he (probably) completed the Apology and at approximately the same time that he was also occupied by the Arcadia and Astrophil and Stella, Sidney answered a request from his friend, Edward Denny, for a list of books that an educated man should read.25 On October 18, 1580, Sidney wrote a similar, though less formal letter to his brother Robert that deals with the same issues.26
Taking the Denny letter first, the key difference between the Denny letter and the Apology is that Sidney excludes poetry entirely from his list. Even though in the Apology Sidney strenuously argues that poetry teaches virtue better than any other discipline, Sidney recommends no poetry whatsoever to his friend. Homer and Vergil, Petrarch and Sannazaro, Chaucer, Gower, Dante, Amadis de Gaul, the Mirrour For Magistrates, and the Earl of Surrey's lyrics, even the Arthurian...
(The entire section is 3875 words.)
Stump, Donald V., et al. An Annotated Bibliography of Texts and Criticism. Old Tappan, NJ: Hall Reference (Macmillan), 1994,864 p.
Comprehensive reference source.
Boas, Frederick S. Sir Philip Sidney: Representative Elizabethan—His Life and Writings. London: Staples Press, 1955,204 p.
Highly regarded, comprehensive study that also includes criticism of Sidney's works.
Duncan-Jones, Katherine. Sir Philip Sidney: Courtier Poet. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991, 350 p.
Challenges hagiographical reports of Sidney and offers connections between his life and his writings.
Greville, Fulke. Life of the Renowned Sir Philip Sidney. 1652. Reprint. Delmar, N.Y.: Scholars' Facsimiles and Reprints, 1984,255 p.
Contemporaneous and reverential work which helped to create Sidney's legendary status.
Osborn, James M. Young Philip Sidney, Fifteen Seventy-Two to Fifteen Seventy-Seven. Ann Arbor, Mi.: Books on Demand, 1972, 591 p.
Scholarly work that includes many letters and records.
(The entire section is 690 words.)