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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

VI. The Plays of the University Wits

§ 13. Robert Greene

Robert Greene, born at Norwich in July, 1558, took his B.A. at St. John’s, Cambridge, in 1578, and his M.A. at Clare hall in 1583. He was incorporated M.A. at Oxford in 1588. Apparently, between the times of taking his B.A. and his M.A. degrees, he travelled, at least in Spain and Italy. Certainly, then or later, he came to know other parts of the continent, for he says in his Notable Discovery of Coosnage, “I have smiled with the Italian … eaten Spanish mirabolanes … France, Germany, Poland, Denmark, I know them all.” That is, by the time he was twenty-five, he had had his chance to know at first hand the writings of Castiglione, Ariosto and Machiavelli—the Italian authors to whom his work is most indebted. He had had, too, his chance of contrasting the newer learning of Italy with the traditional English teaching of his time. A man of letters curiously mingling artistic and Bohemian sympathies and impulses with puritanic ideals and tendencies, who had been trained in the formal learning of an English university, he was greatly stimulated by the varied renascence influences, and, by them, in many cases, was led, not to greater liberty, but to greater licence of expression. As novelist, pamphleteer and playwright, he is always mercurial, but always, no matter how large his borrowings, individual and contributive.