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Thomas Kyd, born 1558, Playwright

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Thomas Kyd Born: 1558 Birthplace: London, England Died: Aug-1594 Location of death: London, England Cause of death: unspecified Remains: Buried, St. James Churchyard, Islington, London, England

Gender: Male Race or Ethnicity: White Occupation: Playwright

Nationality: England Executive summary: The Spanish Tragedy

One of the most important of the English Elizabethan dramatists who preceded William Shakespeare. Kyd remained until the last decade of the 19th century in what appeared likely to be impenetrable obscurity. Even his name was forgotten until Thomas Hawkins about 1773 discovered it in connection with The Spanish Tragedy in Thomas Heywood's Apologie for Actors. But by the industry of English and German scholars a great deal of light has since been thrown on his life and writings. He was the son of Francis Kyd, citizen and scrivener of London, and was baptized in the church of St. Mary Woolnoth, Lombard Street, on the 6th of November 1558. His mother, who survived her son, was named Agnes, or Anna. In October 1565 Kyd entered the newly founded Merchant Taylors' School, where Edmund Spenser and perhaps Thomas Lodge were at different times his school-fellows. It is thought that Kyd did not proceed to either of the universities; he apparently followed, soon after leaving school, his father's business as a scrivener. But Thomas Nashe describes him as a "shifting companion that ran through every art and throve by none." He showed a fairly wide range of reading in Latin. The author on whom he draws most freely is Seneca, but there are many reminiscences, and occasionally mistranslations of other authors. Nashe contemptuously said that "English Seneca read by candlelight yeeldes many good sentences", no doubt exaggerating his indebtedness to Thomas Newton's translation. John Lyly had a more marked influence on his manner than any of his contemporaries.