His father, John Holland, was a clergyman who fled the Kingdom of England during the persecutions of Mary I of England. Philemon was born at Chelmsford, Essex, and educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford (where, more than three hundred years later, a house was named for him), before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge. He took a degree in medicine and moved to Coventry around 1595, where he practiced among the poor but devoted most of his energy to translating. In 1628 he was made headmaster of the local free school, but he served for less than a year. His last years were passed in poverty, though he was awarded a pension in 1635 by the city council of Coventry.
Holland was extremely productive, but his best known translations are of Pliny the Elder's Natural History, Plutarch's Moralia, Suetonius, Xenophon's Cyropaedia, and William Camden's Britannia. Holland's Pliny is sometimes superior (despite the antiquated language he uses) to the 20th‑century English translations commonly available, and there are passages in his Plutarch which have hardly been excelled by any later prose translator of the classics.
Archive: Learning by the Book; Chris Upton Explores the History of a School Library That Is Celebrating Its 400th Anniversary
May 25, 2002; Byline: Chris Upton In the fourth act of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, when the gruesome deeds are piling up and the audience...