Benjamin "Ben" Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637) was an English playwright, poet, actor and literary critic of the 17th century, whose artistry exerted a lasting impact upon English poetry and stage comedy. He popularised the comedy of humours. He is best known for the satirical plays ''Every Man in His Humour'' (1598), ''Volpone, or The Foxe'' (1605), ''The Alchemist'' (1610) and ''Bartholomew Fayre: A Comedy'' (1614) and for his lyric poetry; he is generally regarded as the second most important English dramatist, after William Shakespeare, during the reign of James I.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Ben Jonson )〕
Jonson was a classically educated, well-read and cultured man of the English Renaissance with an appetite for controversy (personal and political, artistic and intellectual) whose cultural influence was of unparalleled breadth upon the playwrights and the poets of the Jacobean era (1603–1625) and of the Caroline era (1625–1642).〔"Ben Jonson", ''Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge'', volume 10, p. 388.〕
Ben Jonson said that his family originally came from the folk of the Anglo-Scottish border country, which genealogy is verified by the three spindles (rhombi) in the Jonson family coat of arms. One spindle is a diamond-shaped heraldic device shared with the Border-country Johnstone family of Annandale. Jonson's clergyman father died two months before his birth; his mother married a master bricklayer two years later.〔Robert Chambers, Book of Days〕〔"Ben Jonson", Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, pp. 611〕 Jonson attended school in St. Martin's Lane. Later, a family friend paid for his studies at Westminster School, where the antiquarian, historian, topographer and officer of arms, William Camden (1551–1623) was one of his masters. In the event, the pupil and the master became friends, and the intellectual influence of Camden's broad-ranging scholarship upon Jonson's art and literary style remained notable, until Camden's death in 1623.
On leaving Westminster School, Jonson was to have attended the University of Cambridge, to continue his book learning; but did not, because of his unwilled apprenticeship to his bricklayer stepfather.〔〔 According to the churchman and historian Thomas Fuller (1608–61), Jonson at this time built a garden wall in Lincoln's Inn. After having been an apprentice bricklayer, Ben Jonson went to the Netherlands and volunteered to soldier with the English regiments of Francis Vere (1560–1609) in Flanders.
The ''Hawthornden Manuscripts'' (1619), of the conversations between Ben Jonson and the poet William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585–1649), report that, when in Flanders, Jonson engaged, fought and killed an enemy soldier in single combat, and took for trophies the weapons of the vanquished soldier. After his military activity on the Continent, Jonson returned to England and worked as an actor and as a playwright. As an actor, Jonson was the protagonist “Hieronimo” (Geronimo) in the play ''The Spanish Tragedy'' (ca. 1586), by Thomas Kyd (1558–94), the first revenge tragedy in English literature. Moreover, by 1597, he was a working playwright employed by Philip Henslowe, the leading producer for the English public theatre; by the next year, the production of ''Every Man in His Humour'' (1598) had established Jonson's reputation as a dramatist.〔"Ben Jonson", Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, p. 611〕〔"Thomas Kyd", ''Grolier Encyclopedia of Knowledge'', volume 11, p. 122.〕
Regarding his marriage Jonson described his wife to William Drummond as "a shrew, yet honest". Since the 17th century, the identity of Jonson's wife has been obscure, yet she sometimes is identified as "Ann Lewis", the woman who married a Benjamin Jonson in 1594, at the church of St Magnus-the-Martyr, near London Bridge.〔"Ben Jonson", Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th Edition, p. 612.〕 Concerning the family of Anne Lewis and Ben Jonson, the St. Martin's Church registers indicate that Mary Jonson, their eldest daughter, died in November 1593, at six months of age. Then a decade later, in 1603, Benjamin Jonson, their eldest son, died of Bubonic plague when he was seven years old; to lament and honour the dead boy, Benjamin Jonson ''père'' wrote the elegiac ''On My First Sonne'' (1603). Moreover, 32 years later, a second son, also named Benjamin Jonson, died in 1635. In that period, Ann Lewis and Ben Jonson lived separate lives for 5 years; their matrimonial arrangement cast Ann Lewis as the housewife Jonson, and Ben Jonson as the artist who enjoyed the residential hospitality of his patrons, Sir Robert Townshend and Lord Aubigny, Esme Stuart, 3rd Duke of Lennox.〔
抄文引用元・出典: フリー百科事典『 ウィキペディア（Wikipedia）』