Nathan Drake (essayist)

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Nathan Drake, engraved after Henry Thomson

Nathan Drake (15 January 1766 – 1836), English essayist and physician, son of Nathan Drake, an artist, was born in York.[1] He is well known for his book summarizing the knowledge of Shakespeare available at the time.


Drake was apprenticed to a doctor in York in 1780, and in 1786 proceeded to Edinburgh University, where he took his degree as M.D. in 1789. In 1790 he set up as a general practitioner at Sudbury, Suffolk, where he found an intimate friend in Dr. Mason Good (d. 1827). In 1792, Drake relocated to Hadleigh, where he died in 1836.[1]


Drake's works include several volumes of literary essays, and some papers contributed to medical periodicals, but his most important production was:[1]

  • Shakespeare and his Times, including the Biography of the Poet, Criticisms on his Genius, and Writings; a new Chronology of his Plays; a Disquisition on the Object of his Sonnets; and a History of the Manners, Customs and Amusements, Superstitions, Poetry and Elegant Literature of his Age (2 vols., 1817).

The title sufficiently indicates the scope of this ample work, which has the merit, says G.G. Gervinus "of having brought together for the first time into a whole the tedious and scattered material of the editions and the many other valuable labours of Tyrwhitt, Heath, Ritson, etc".[1][2]

An important medical work is On the Use of Digitalis in Consumption (five papers published in the Medical and Physical Journal, London, 1799-1800). His Literary Hours (1798) were exceedingly popular early in the nineteenth century (4th ed. 1820).[3]

Drake is also credited with discovering the poet Henry Neele.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d Chisholm 1911, "Drake, Nathan".
  2. ^ Gervinus & Bunnett 1863, p. 22.
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1905). "Drake, Nathan". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead. 
  4. ^ ODNB entry on Neele: Retrieved 12 August 2012. Pay-walled.


  • Gervinus, Georg G.; Bunnett, F. E. (trans.) (1863). Shakespeare Commentaries. 1. London: Smith, Elder and Co. p. 22. 
  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Drake, Nathan". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. 

Further reading[edit]