Samuel Rowlands (c. 1573–1630) was an English author of pamphlets in prose and verse, which reflect the follies and humours of the lower middle-class life of his time. He seems to have had no contemporary literary reputation; but his work throws considerable light on the development of popular literature and social life in London of his day.
He spent his life in London, and it is thought that he kept close contact with the middle and lower classes of London society. It is also believed that from 1600–1615 he worked for William White, and then George Loftus, booksellers who published Rowlands' pamphlets during this time.
Sacred and secular poems
Among his works, which include some poems on sacred subjects, are:
- The Betraying of Christ (1598)
- The Letting of Humour's Blood in the Head-vaine (epigrams and satires) and A Mery Meetinge, or tis Mery when Knaves mete (1600) – the two latter being publicly burnt by order, but republished later under other names (Humors Ordinarie and The Knave of Clubbes)
- Greene's Ghost haunting Conie-Catchers (1602), which he pretended to have edited from Greene's papers, but which is largely borrowed from his printed works
- Tis Merrie when Gossips meete (1602), a dialogue between a Widow, a Wile, a Maid and a Vintner
- Looke to it; for Ile stabbe ye (1604), in which Death describes the tyrants, careless divines and other evil-doers whom he will destroy
- Hell's broke loose (1605), an account of John of Leyden. In the same year a Theatre of Divine Recreation (not extant), poems founded on the Old Testament, and a collection of epigrams entitled Humor's Antique Faces
- A Terrible Battle between ... Time and Death (1606)
- Democritus, or Doctor Merry-man his Medicines against Melancholy humors, reprinted, with alterations, as Doctor Merrie-man, and Diogenes Lent home (1607), in which Athens is London
- The Famous History of Guy, Earl of Warwick (1607), a long romance in Rowlands's favorite six-lined stanza, and one of his hastiest, least successful efforts
- Humors Looking Glasse (1608)
- (dubiously) Martin Mark-all, Beadle of Bridewell (1608 or 1610), a history of roguery containing much information about notable highwaymen (q.v. kings of gypsies) and the completest vocabulary of thieves' slang up to that time, usually attributed to Samuel Rid.
Of his later works may be mentioned Sir Thomas Overbury; or the Poysoned Knights Complaint, and The Melancholic Knight (1615), which suggests a hearing of Beaumont and Fletcher's Knight of the Burning Pestle. The last of his humorous studies, Good Newes and Bad Newes, appeared in 1622, and in 1628 he published a pious volume of prose and verse, entitled Heaven's Glory, Seeke it: Earts vanitie, Flye it: Hells Horror, Fere it.
After this nothing is known of him. Edmund Gosse, in his introduction to Rowlands's complete works, edited (1872–80) for the Hunterian Club in Glasgow by Sidney John Hervon Herrtage, sums him up as a kind of small non-political Daniel Defoe, a pamphleteer in verse whose talents were never put into exercise except when their possessor was pressed for means, and a poet of considerable talent without one spark or glimmer of genius.
Gosse's notice is reprinted in his Seventeenth Century Studies (1883). A poem by Rowlands, The Bride (1617), was reprinted at Boston, USA, in 1905 by A. C. Potter.
- Selected English Renaissance Religious Writing – Samuel Rowlands University of Saskatchewan
- The Review of English Studies Oxford Journals
- Mayall, David (Oct 9, 2003). Gypsy Identities 1500-2000: From Egipcyans and Moon-men to the Ethnic Romany. Routledge. p. 69.
- Aydelotte, Frank (2013). Elizabethan Rogues and Vagabonds (5th ed.). p. unnumbered.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Rowlands, Samuel". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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