Benjamin 'Ben' Jonson was born in June 1572. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair and his equally accomplished lyric poems.
A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, including time in jail and a penchant for switching faiths, Jonson had an unparalleled breadth of influence on Jacobean and Caroline playwrights and poets.
In 1616 Jonson was appointed by King James I to receive a yearly pension of £60 to become what is now recognised as the post of the first official Poet Laureate.
He died on the 6th of August, 1637 at Westminster and is buried in the north aisle of the nave at Westminster Abbey.
A master of both playwriting and poetry, his reputation continues to endure and reach a new audience with each succeeding generation.
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