Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Digges, Leonard (1588-1635)

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DIGGES, LEONARD (1588–1635), poet and translator, son of Thomas Digges [q. v.], by Agnes, daughter of Sir Warham St. Leger, was born in London in 1588, and went to University College, Oxford, in 1603, aged fifteen. He proceeded B.A. 31 Oct. 1606, and travelled abroad, studying at many foreign universities. In consideration of his continental studies he was created M.A. at Oxford on 20 Nov. 1626, and allowed to reside at University College. He died there 7 April 1635. Digges was well acquainted with both Spanish and French, and was a good classical scholar. He published in 1617 a verse translation from Claudian entitled ‘The Rape of Proserpine’ (printed by G. P. for Edward Blount). It is dedicated to Digges's sister (1587–1619), wife of Sir Anthony Palmer, K.B. (1566–1630), who had recently nursed him through a dangerous illness. In 1622 he issued a translation of a Spanish novel, entitled ‘Gerardo, the Unfortunate Spaniard,’ by G. de Cespedes y Meneses, and dedicated it to the brothers William, earl of Pembroke, and Philip, earl of Montgomery. It was republished in 1653. Verses by Digges are prefixed to Aleman's ‘Rogue’ (1623), and to Giovanni Sorriano's ‘Italian Tutor’ (1640). Greater interest attaches to two pieces of verse by Digges in praise of Shakespeare, one of which was prefixed to the 1623 edition of Shakespeare's plays, and the other to the 1640 edition of his poems. Few contemporaries wrote more sympathetically of Shakespeare's greatness.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 592–3; Wood's Fasti, i. 316, 428; Shakespeare's Century of Prayse (New Shaksp. Soc.), 157, 231; Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum in Addit. MS. 24488, ff. 181–2.]

S. L. L.