February 9, 2021

Consolation for Catholics in Michael Drayton's Early Poems

Event Series: The Christian Literary Imagination

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Critical reception of the early work of Michael Drayton has been generally muted; his first work is usually passed over altogether. In a discussion with Michael Scott, Clare Asquith proposed that his purpose has been misunderstood, arguing that Drayton's primary audience was the Catholic milieu who patronized him and that his aims were similar to those of William Byrd and Robert Southwell. His published works, superficially uncontroversial, are in fact intended to provide consolation, support, and encouragement to the English Catholic community in England and abroad.

This event was sponsored by the Future of the Humanities Project, the Georgetown Humanities Initiative, the Georgetown Master’s Program in the Engaged and Public Humanities, and the Las Casas Institute (Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford). It is part of a year-long series on the "Christian Literary Imagination."


Clare Asquith, Lady Oxford, is an independent scholar of international renown.  Graduating with an unviva'd first from Oxford, Clare Asquith worked in publishing, writing, and teaching before travelling Eastern Europe in the 1980s and 1990s with her husband, a diplomat serving in Moscow and Kiev.  The experience led her to publish Shadowplay (2005) and Shakespeare and the Resistance (2018). Her books, articles, and lectures set early modern English writers in the context of an intense political oppression often ignored by literary critics yet, Asquith maintains, crucial to a full understanding of the poetry and drama of the time.

Professor Michael Scott (moderator) is Senior Dean and Fellow of Blackfriars Hall, college adviser for postgraduate students, and a Member of the Las Casas Institute at the University of Oxford. He also serves as senior adviser to the president at Georgetown University. Scott was on the editorial board which relaunched Critical Survey from Oxford University Press. Scott previously served as the pro vice chancellor at De Montfort University and founding vice chancellor of Wrexham Glyndwr University.