About Philip Sidney
A poet, soldier and courtier, Philip Sidney was one of the most celebrated figures of the Elizabethan age. He was a member of a distinguished and talented family; his sister, Mary, the Countess of Pembroke, was a patron of writers and supported her brother as he wrote his great work, Arcadia.
Sidney left Oxford before completing his degree and travelled extensively in France, Germany, Austria and Italy with his patron and father-in-law Sir Francis Walsingham. A militant Protestant who fell in and out of favour with Queen Elizabeth I, Sidney was appointed Governor of Flushing in the Netherlands and died after being wounded in the Battle of Zutphen, fighting the Spanish.
He wrote in his hugely influential ‘Defence of Poesy’ that ‘verse far exceedeth prose in the knitting up of memory’: an apt claim when his poetry, including Astrophil and Stella, with its 108 sonnets and 11 songs, and Arcadia are still read today.