George Chapman, an English poet, born at Hitching Hill, Hertfordshire, in 1557, died in London, May 12, 1634. After studying two years in Trinity college, Oxford, where he was distinguished for his knowledge of the classics, he went in 1576 to London, where he enjoyed the friendship of Spenser, Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Jonson, and the patronage of King James and Prince Henry. He published a translation of 7 books of the Iliad in 1598; of 12 books in 1600; and of the whole poem in 1603. It is in the lofty 14-syllable English verse, and of a vigorous and imaginative character, more according with the spirit than the letter of the original. It has retained its popularity both with poets and scholars, though less polished and less accurate than later versions. Pope said that it was "something like what one might imagine Homer himself would have written before he arrived at years of discretion;" Waller could not read it without transport; and Keats has expressed his admiration of it in one of the most beautiful of his sonnets. Chapman afterward translated the Odyssey, the Homeric hymns, and portions of Ovid, Terence, Musseus, and Petrarch. He was also a voluminous writer of plays, only passages of which are now esteemed.
He was associated with Jonson, Marston, and others in writing the comedy of "Eastward Ho!" which contained severe satirical reflections upon Scotchmen, and was therefore so distasteful to King James that he caused the authors to be for a short time imprisoned. An imitation of Terence, entitled "All Fools," was highly applauded by his contemporaries; and portions of his tragedy of "Bussy d'Ambois" were highly esteemed by Charles Lamb. A handsome edition of his translation of Homer was published in London in 4 vols, in 1858, and an edition of his complete dramatic works was announced in 1873.