Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

George Villiers left his mark on English literature solely with his contribution to drama; his remaining miscellaneous works are obscure. His letters have not been collected, although Tom Brown, Villiers’s editor, included a number of them in The Works of His Grace, George Villiers, Late Duke of Buckingham (1715). The published letters appear to hold more interest for the biographer and historian than for the student of literature.

Only a few of Villiers’s poems were published during his lifetime, and his total poetic output is small. Brown’s edition includes twenty-odd poems, largely occasional verses, songs, verse epistles, satires, prologues, and epilogues. The verses reveal that Villiers never achieved the smoothness and polish found in the works of the best courtier poets during the reign of Charles II. Poets such as the earls of Dorset and Rochester, taking to heart the maxims of Horace and following the example of Ben Jonson, produced verses of lyric smoothness and elegance. Villiers lacked either the ear to detect or the patience to produce pleasing rhythm, and his poems do not achieve memorable figures of speech or scintillating wit. Therefore, editors of anthologies of his period omit his poems from their collections.