Richard Edwardes

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For other people of the same name, see Richard Edwards (disambiguation).
Richard Edwardes (Ilustration by John Dryden)

Richard Edwardes (also Edwards, 25 March 1525 – 31 October 1566) was an English poet, playwright, and composer; he was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and was master of the singing boys. He was known for his comedies and interludes. He was also rumoured to be an illegitimate son of Henry VIII.[1]


Richard Edwardes was born in 1525 to Agnes Beaupenny Blewitt Edwards.

He began his studies at Corpus Christi College, Oxford in May 1540 and joined Christ Church, Oxford as it opened in 1546. He joined the Chapel Royal by 1557 and was appointed Master of the Children in 1561. After he died in 1566, he was succeeded by William Hunnis.[2]



In 1566, Edwardes' Palamon and Arcite was performed before Elizabeth I at Oxford when the stage fell — three people died and five were injured as a result. Despite the tragic accident, the show continued to play that night.

Damon and Pythias (written in 1564, published in 1571), a comedy, is his only extant play.


Ten of Edwardes' poems appear in the first edition of the Paradise of Dainty Devices, though publisher Henry Disle says the poems are "written for the most part by M. [Master] Edwards." Edwardes possibly compiled the manuscript on which the Paradise of Dainty Devices is based.


Edwardes was less well known as a composer, but several of his compositions survive, including three pieces in the Mulliner Book: "O the syllye man," ascribed to him by the book, and two anonymous pieces usually attributed to him, "In goinge to my naked bedde" and "When grypinge griefes." Other pieces include a song from Damon and Pithias, "Awake, ye woeful wights," and a setting of the Lord's Prayer in Richard Day's Psalter of 1563.[2]


  • Paradise of Dainty Devices (linked below)


  1. ^ Hart, Kelly (June 1, 2009). The Mistresses of Henry VIII (First ed.). The History Press. p. 23. ISBN 0-7524-4835-8. 
  2. ^ a b Michael Smith. "Richard Edwards", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed January 10 2014), (subscription access).

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