William Alabaster

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William Alabaster

Immediate Family:

Son of Roger Alabaster and Bridget Alabaster

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About William Alabaster

William Alabaster (also Alablaster, Arblastier) (1567 – 1640) was an English poet, playwright, and religious writer. His surname is one of the many variants of arbalester, a cross-bowman.

He was born at Hadleigh, Suffolk, and educated at Westminster School, and Trinity College, Cambridge from 1583. His Roxana, a Latin tragedy, was performed around 1592, and printed in 1632. Roxana is founded on the La Dalida (Venice, 1567) of Luigi Groto, known as Cieco di Hadria, and Hallam asserts that it is a plagiarism (Literature of Europe, iii.54). A surreptitious edition in 1632 was followed by an authorized version a plagiarii unguibus vindicata, aucta et agnita ab Authore, Gulielmo Alabastro.

He became a Roman Catholic convert in Spain when on a diplomatic mission as chaplain. His religious beliefs led him to be imprisoned several times; eventually he gave up Catholicism, and was favoured by James I. He received a prebend in St Paul's Cathedral, London, and the living of Therfield, Hertfordshire. He died at Little Shelford, Cambridgeshire.


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