Elizabethan Prose

Many writers of the Elizabethan age translated various books into English. Sir Thomas North translated Plutarch’ Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. He was one of the best translators with a good command of English. He also had the ability to weave words into powerful sentences. He did not translate directly from Greek, but from a French translation.

Shakespeare has also used some expressions of North’s work in some of his famous dramas. Richard Hakluyt collected and published The Principal Navigations, Voyages and Discoveries of the English Nation. At this time there was a great deal of travel and adventure on the sea. This book includes the accounts of the voyages of different people. Hakluyt left a lot of unpublished papers and some of these came into the possession of Samuel Purchas. He published them under the title Purchase his Pilgrims. Two other books by Purchase have titles, which are almost the same Purchase his Pilgrimage.

Some Early Novels
Some of the forms of novel also appeared during the Elizabethan age. John Lily wrote a kind of novel named Euphues. He started a fashion, which spread in books and conversation. It has a thin love story. This style is filled with tricks and alliteration. The sentences are rather long and complicated. This kind of language style was common among ladies of the time. Even Shakespeare was influenced by this artificial style.

Another novelist of the other time was Thomas Nash, who wrote a picaresque novel named The Life of Jacke Witton. This sort of novel is about the adventure of bad (wicked) but lovable character. The novels of this period could not create a basis for later development. The fashion of these novels, died out very soon.

Francis Bacon
Bacon is one of the most famous prose writers of the time was Francis Bacon who is also known as the father of the English prose. He wrote books both in English and Latin. His aphoristic prose style is very popular. His essays are full of remarkable thoughts. He could express great ideas in short and effective sentences. His famous books are The Essays, The Advancement of Learning, The History of Henry VII and The New Atlantis.

Translation of Bible
During this period several translations of the Bible were made. William Tyndale was a successful translator who translated the New Testament form the Greek and the Old Testament from the Hebrew. He was later burnt to death for his beliefs. The Authorized Version (A.V) of the Bible appeared in 1611. Forty-seven translators worked in groups in different parts of the Bible in order to translate it. This work was dependent chiefly on Wycliffe and Tyndale. The language is beautiful, strong and pure. Many English writers are influenced by the words of the Authorized Version of the Bible.

John Lyly
Lyly wrote a thin love story, Euphues which is used for the purpose of giving Lyly's ideas in various talks and letters. The style is filled with tricks and alliteration where as the sentences are long and complicated and large number of similes is brought into this story. Even Shakespeare was influenced by his artificial style.

Ben Jonson
The famous dramatist Ben Jonson, who is also known as the father of the English literary criticism wrote a book names Timber, or Discoveries. This book is a collection of notes and ideas on many subjects. Jonson is of the opinion that a critic should judge a work as a whole and he must have some poetic abilities. He did not like Donne and Spenser, but always preferred Shakespeare.