Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dickenson, John

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DICKENSON, JOHN (fl. 1594), romance-writer, was the author of:

  1. ‘Arisbas, Euphues amidst his Slumbers, or Cupids Journey to Hell,’ &c., 1594, 4to, dedicated ‘To the right worshipfull Maister Edward Dyer, Esquire.’
  2. ‘Greene in Conceipt. New raised from his graue to Write the Tragique Historie of Faire Valeria of London,’ &c., 1598, 4to, with a woodcut on the title-page representing Robert Greene in his shroud, writing at a table.
  3. ‘The Shepheardes Complaint; a passionate Eclogue, written in English Hexameters: Wherevnto are annexed other Conceits,’ &c., n. d. (circ. 1594), 4to, of which only one copy (preserved at Lamport Hall) is extant.

Dickenson was a pupil in the school of Lyly and Greene. He had a light hand for verse (though little can be said in favour of his ‘passionate Eclogue’) and introduced some graceful lyrics into his romances. Three short poems from ‘The Shepheardes Complaint’ are included in ‘England's Helicon,’ 1600.

There was also a John Dickenson who resided in the Low Countries and published:

  1. ‘Deorum Consessus, siue Apollinis ac Mineruæ querela,’ &c., 1591, 8vo, of which there is a unique copy in the Bodleian Library.
  2. ‘Specvlum Tragicvm, Regvm, Principvm & Magnatvm superioris sæculi celebriorum ruinas exitusque calamitosos breviter complectens,’ &c., Delft, 1601, 8vo, reprinted in 1602, 1603, and 1605.
  3. ‘Miscellanea ex Historiis Anglicanis concinnata,’ &c., Leyden, 1606, 4to.

It is not clear whether this writer, whose latinity (both in verse and prose) has the charm of ease and elegance, is to be identified with the author of the romances. Dr. Grosart has included the romances among his ‘Occasional Issues.’

[Grosart's Introduction to Dickenson's Works; Collier's Bibl. Cat. i. 219–20; England's Helicon, ed. Bullen, p. xviii.]

A. H. B.