Thomas Campion Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Thomas Campion (KAM-pee-uhn) was the second child and only son of John and Lucy Campion. He was born in Holborn, Hertfordshire, in 1567, but he probably spent his first ten years in London, his father having been admitted to the Middle Temple to study law in 1565. When Thomas was ten, his father died. A year later his mother remarried; within a few months, she also died. In 1581, a year after his mother’s death, Thomas entered Peterhouse College, Cambridge. At the university he gained a wide knowledge of and reverence for the classics, and it was probably at this time that he met his close friend, Thomas Nash.

In 1584 Campion left the university, and in 1586 he was admitted to Gray’s Inn, London, as a law student. There he made many friends and participated fully in the varied social life of Gray’s; he took part in various dramatic performances and revels, some presented before the queen. It appears that the study of law was not to his taste; however, he continued his connection with the Inn until at least 1595. On the other hand, it is probable that in 1591 Campion was for a short time in France as a soldier and that he saw combat around Dieppe with a number of other “gentlemen adventurers.” He was certainly back at Gray’s Inn by 1595, when he published his Poemata, a collection of Latin poems, many of which are quite personal and tell much about the poet and his associates. The book was very popular. By this time Campion had long...

(The entire section is 538 words.)