May, Thomas

May, Thomas
(1595-1650)
   The eldest son of Sir Thomas May of Mayfield, Sussex, he graduated from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, in 1612. May's writings include plays, poems, translations, and prose works. He produced his first play, The Heir, in 1620, with verses attached by Thomas Carew (see entry). His translations were Lucan's Pharsalia (1627), Virgil's Georgics (1628), Martial's Epigrams (1629), and a continuation of Lucan (1630) dedicated to Charles I. By the king's command, May wrote two narrative poems on the reign of Henry II (1633) and Edward III (1635). On the death of Ben Jonson (1637), despite being recommended by King Charles, the post of poet laureate went to Sir William D'Avenant (see entry). In his Breviary of the History of the Parliament of England (1650), May defended the Parliamentarians. His death was a mystery; the supposition was that he tied his nightcap too tightly and strangled himself. He is commemorated by a tablet in Poet's Corner of Westminster Abbey. Some of his other poems: "Dear, do not your fair beauty wrong," "Not he that knows how to acquire," "To My Deserving Friend Mr. James Shirley."
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite DVD, 2006. Songs from the British Drama. Edward Bliss Reed, ed. Yale University Press, 1925. The Dramatic Works and Poems of James Shirley Volume I. Alexander Dyce and William Gifford, eds. Rus260 sell and Russell, 1966. The National Portrait Gallery (www.npg.org.uk). The Oxford Book of Classical Verse in Translation. Adrian Poole and Jeremy Maule, eds., 1995. The Oxford Companion to English Literature. 6th edition. Margaret Drabble, ed. Oxford University Press, 2000. Westminster Abbey Official Guide (no date).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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