Michael Drayton, an English poet, born in Hartshill, Warwickshire, in 1563, died in 1631. His life is involved in obscurity, and various unauthentic accounts of him are given. He is supposed to have studied at Cambridge. In 1626 he was poet laureate. He found patrons in Sir Walter Aston and the earl of Dorset, but he never became wealthy or powerful, though respected for his virtues and talent. It is not easy to discover the order of his various poems, some of which were published without date. The best known is his "Poly-olbion," a descriptive poem on England, her legends, antiquities, and productions, the first 18 books of which were published in 1613, and the whole 30 in 1622. Among his other works are " The Harmony of the Church, containing the spiritual Songs and holy Hymns of godly Men, Patriarchs, and Prophets" (4to, 1591, only one copy of which edition is known to exist; and 8vo, London, 1843, edited by Dyce); "Idea, the Shepherd's Garland, and Rowland's Sacrifice to the Nine Muses " (4to, 1593), the second of which was reissued under the title of "Pastorals;" "Mortimeriados " (4to, 1596), reprinted under the title of "The Barons' Wars;" "England's Heroical Epistles" (8vo, 1598); " The Legend of Great Cromwell" (4to, 1607); "Battle of Agincourt" (folio, 1627); "The Muses' Elysium" (4to, 1630); numerous legends, sonnets, etc, mostly printed in collections; and "Nymphidia, the Court of Fairy," edited by Sir E. Brydges (Kent, 1814). The last is one of his most admirable productions.
His historical poems are dignified, full of fine descriptions, and rich in true poetic spirit, and his "Poly-olbion" is moreover so accurate as to be quoted as authority by antiquaries. Notes to the first portion of it were written by Selden. He was buried in Westminster abbey, where a monument was erected to his memory. An edition of his works, with a historical essay on his life and writings, was published in 1752-'3 (4 vols. 8vo, London).