Edmund Spenser and British Policy in Ireland

Howard Amos interrogates a key text on colonialism and assesses its influence.

Edmund Spenser (1552-1599) served as secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton during his suppression of the Desmond rebellion and then lived at Kilcolman Castle following the plantation of Munster (1580) in which he received land. His A View of the Present State of Ireland was written in 1596 as a direct result of his familiarity with Ireland. The View examines the condition of Ireland during the 1590s and proffers a series of steps for the resolution of the problems it identifies. It is some 65,000 words long and consists of a dialogue between two fictional characters, Eudoxus, a rational Englishman largely ignorant of Irish affairs, and Irenius, someone who speaks from experience of Ireland, much like Spenser himself.

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