Thomas Achelley

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Title page of Lamentable Historie of Violenta & Didaco (1576)

Thomas Achelley, also Achlow or Atchelow (f. 1568–1595, d. before 1600) was an English poet and playwright of the Elizabethan era. Though little of his work survives, in his own time he had a considerable reputation.

Life and reputation[edit]

Nothing is known of Achelley's family. Several contemporaries grouped him with Oxford alumni, but he is not recorded by any school or university.[1] On 6 March 1587, "Thomas Achelley of London, Gentleman", was surety along with James Peele for a £30 loan from Daniel Balgay, a London mercer, to George Peele.[2]

Achelley wrote plays for the Queen’s Men, but none survive. In his A Knight's Conjuring (1607), Thomas Dekker places the player John Bentley (1553–85) among a company of deceased playwrights, Thomas Watson, Thomas Kyd, and Achelley. Dekker writes that Bentley, one of the leading actors of the Queen’s Men, "had bene a Player, molded out of their pennes".[3]

Thomas Nashe mentions Achelley in his preface to Robert Greene’s Menaphon (1589), "To The Gentlemen Students Of Both Universities" in company with Mathew Roydon and George Peele as one of the most able men of London able to revive poetry, saying that he "hath more than once or twise manifested, his deepe witted schollership in places of credit".[4] Achelley is compared with Italian poets by Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia: "As Italy had Dante, Boccace, Petrarch, Tasso, Celiano, and Ariosto; so England had Matthew Roydun, Thomas Atchelow, Thomas Watson, Thomas Kid, Robert Greene, and George Peele" (fol. 282).

The preface of Bel-vedére, or the garden of the Muses (1600) lists him as one of a group of deceased contributors.[5]

Extant works[edit]


  1. ^ Freeman, Arthur (1967). Thomas Kyd: Facts and Problems. London: Clarendon, p. 15.
  2. ^ Horne, David H. (1952) The Life and Minor Works of George Peele, New Haven: Yale UP, pp. 82-3.
  3. ^ Freeman 1967, 22; Erne, Lukas. (2001) Beyond The Spanish Tragedy: A Study of the Works of Thomas Kyd, Manchester: Manchester UP, p. 1.
  4. ^ Jackson, Macdonald P. (2014) Determining the Shakespeare Canon, Oxford, New York: Oxford UP. p. 120. ISBN 978-0-19-870441-6.
  5. ^ Freeman 1967, p. 18.
  6. ^ Freeman, Arthur (1970). "The Writings of Thomas Achelley" in Library 25: 40-2; 40.
  7. ^ Freeman 1970, p. 41.
  8. ^ Freeman 1970, p. 41.
  9. ^ Freeman 1970, p. 41.
  10. ^ Crawford, Charles, ed. (1913). England's Parnassus, Oxford, p. 422.
  11. ^ Freeman 1970, p. 42.
  12. ^ Freeman 1970, p. 42.