Thomas Overbury  

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Sir Thomas Overbury (158115 September 1613), English poet and essayist, and the victim of one of the most sensational crimes in English history, was the son of Nicholas Overbury, of Bourton-on-the-Hill, and was born at Compton Scorpion, near Ilmington, in Warwickshire.

Literary and cultural references

  • Overbury's poem, A Wife, was published in 1614 (see 1614 in poetry), and ran through six editions within a year, the scandal connected with the murder of the author greatly aiding its success. It was abundantly reprinted within the next sixty years, and it continued to be one of the most widely popular books of the 17th century. Combined with later editions of A Wife, and gradually adding to its bulk, were Characters (first printed in the second of the 1614 editions), The Remedy of Love (1620; see 1620 in poetry), and Observations in Foreign Travels (1626). Later, much that must be spurious was added to the gathering snowball of Overbury's works.
  • Hic Mulier, an anonymous pamphlet published in 1620 in opposition to 'masculine' behaviour in females during the reign of James VI and I, quotes from A Wife, identified only through a marginal reference to S.T.O.
  • The Court and Character of King James, a gossipy and partisan memoir, published in 1650 by a longstanding courtier, Sir Anthony Weldon
  • Tragic stage play, Sir Thomas Overbury, by Richard Savage 1723
  • Jean Plaidy's Murder in the Tower in 1964 tells of the love triangle between Overbury, Carr and Lady Francis Howard.
  • For an alternative account of the trial, see Anne Somerset's Unnatural Murder (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997).
  • Marjorie Bowen wrote a fictionalised account of the case and trial in The King's Favourite.
  • Rafael Sabatini's novel about the rise and fall of Robert Carr, The King's Minion (1930), argues Overbury's poisoning was ordered by James I and carried out by his personal physician after the failed attempts by Lady Essex and her conspirators.
  • The dramatist John Ford wrote a lost work titled Sir Thomas Overbury's Ghost, containing the history of his life and untimely death (1615). Its nature is uncertain, but Ford scholars have suggested it may have been an elegy, prose piece or pamphlet.<ref>Stock, L. E., et al. (eds.) The Nondramatic Works of John Ford (Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1991); p. 340.</ref>
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne mentions this murder in his book The Scarlet Letter.
  • Charles Mackay devoted much of the chapter on "The Slow Poisoners" in the second volume of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds to Overbury's death and the various fates of his murderers.
  • Miriam Allen deFord wrote The Overbury Affair, which involves events during the reign of James I of Britain surrounding the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury. For the latter work she received a 1961 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Fact Crime book.
  • Anne Somerset: Unnatural Murder: Poison at the Court of James I, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson 1997.
  • Brian Harris QC offers a radical new approach to the poisoning conspiracy and suggests that Overbury may not have died Template:Clarify at the hands of Frances Howard. See Passion, Poison and Power, Wildy, Simmonds & Hill, 2010; (Template:ISBN)
  • A recent (2018) fictional treatment of the story is The Poison Bed by Elizabeth Fremantle (writing as E.C. Fremantle)
  • “A Net for Small Fishes” Lucy Jago (Bloomsbury 2021) is a highly praised fictional account, focusing on Frances Howard and Anne Turner’s relationship

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Thomas Overbury" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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