Spenser, Edmund, 1552?-1599, English poet, b. London. He was the friend of men eminent in literature and at court, including Gabriel Harvey, Sir Philip Sidney, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Robert Sidney, earl of Leicester. After serving as secretary to the Bishop of Rochester, Spenser was appointed in 1580 secretary to Lord Grey, lord deputy of Ireland. Afterward Spenser lived in Ireland, holding minor civil offices and receiving the lands and castle of Kilcolman, Co. Cork. In 1589, under Raleigh's sponsorship, Spenser went to London, where he apparently sought court preferment and publication of the first three books of The Faerie Queene. After the Tyrone rebellion of 1598, in which Kilcolman Castle was burned, he returned to London, where he died in 1599. He is buried in Westminster Abbey. Recognized by his contemporaries as the foremost poet of his time, Spenser was not only a master of meter and language but a profound moral poet as well. Patterning his literary career after that of Vergil, Spenser first published 12 pastoral eclogues of The Shepheardes Calender (1579), which treat the shepherd as rustic priest and poet. His Complaints and Daphnaida, the latter an elegy on Douglas Howard, both appeared in 1591. In 1595 Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, a pastoral allegory dealing with Spenser's first London journey and the vices inherent in court life, and Astrophel, an elegy on Sir Philip Sidney, were published. In the same year Amoretti, Spenser's sonnet sequence commemorating his courtship of Elizabeth Boyle, and Epithalamion, a beautiful and complex wedding poem in honor of his marriage in 1594, were also published. Fowre Hymnes, which explains Spenser's Platonic and Christian views of love and beauty, and Prothalamion appeared in 1596. Also in 1596 the first six books of The Faerie Queene, Spenser's unfinished masterpiece, appeared. Although the poem is an epic, his method was to treat the moral virtues allegorically. The excellence of The Faerie Queene lies in the complexity and depth of Spenser's moral vision and in the Spenserian stanza (nine lines, eight of iambic pentameter followed by one of iambic hexameter, rhyming ababbcbcc), which Spenser invented for his masterpiece. Spenser's only extended prose work, A View of the Present State of Ireland, was first printed in 1633.

See variorum edition of his works (ed. by E. Greenlaw et al., 1932-49), the three-volume edition of the poetical works (J. C. Smith and E. de Selincourt, 1909-10), and the four-volume edition of the minor works (W. L. Renwick, 1928-34). See biography by A. C. Judson (1945); studies by W. Nelson (1963), W. L. Renwick (1925, repr. 1965), D. Cheney (1966), P. Bayley (1971), A. L. DeNeef (1983), and H. Berger, Jr. (1988); C. S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love (1936, repr. 1958) and F. Kermode, Shakespeare, Spenser, Donne (1971).

Spenser: For Hire was a mystery television series based on Robert B. Parker's "Spenser" novels.


The series ran on ABC from 1985 to 1988. The two-hour pilot movie was an adaptation of the fourth novel in the book series, Promised Land. The show garnered decent ratings, (however, it was placed against CBS's Falcon Crest and NBC's Miami Vice in its first season), despite frequent time slot changes and occasional preemptions. In the end, all of the location shooting contributed to the show's demise, with cost being cited as one of the reasons why ABC canceled it.

While the show had a loyal following, Parker was disappointed with the final product (though he said it was not the fault of the performers). Urich, however, indicated it was his favorite acting role.



Spenser was surprisingly sophisticated for a private eye and former boxer. He was well-read, often quoting poetry in everyday conversation. He was also an excellent cook. Spenser lived in Boston and, like many detectives on TV, drove a distinctive car, an ivy green '66 Ford Mustang.


Robert Urich played Spenser. The other major characters were Hawk, played by Avery Brooks, and Susan Silverman, played by Barbara Stock. Ms. Stock left the show in its second season and was replaced by Carolyn McCormick as Rita Fiore. Ms. Stock then returned for the final season.

Character actors Richard Jaeckel and Ron McLarty also co-starred as Spenser's police contacts, Boston homicde detectives Lt. Martin Quirk and Sgt. Frank Belson.

DVD Release

Rykodisc released the four TV movies that were made following the cancellation of the weekly series, on DVD for the first time on June 28, 2005. It is unknown if the series will ever be released on DVD.

Cover Art DVD Name Ep # Additional Information

Spenser: The Movie Collection 4 Features the four TV movies:

Spenser: Ceremony

Spenser: Pale Kings And Princes

Spenser: The Judas Goat

Spenser: A Savage Place

  • Spenser essay

Follow-ups & Spin-offs

  • In 1989, after the show ended, Brooks received his own spin-off series, A Man Called Hawk.
  • During the early 1990s, Urich and Brooks reunited for four made-for-TV films. The movies were based on four of Parker's novels. Parker and his wife Joan co-wrote the first two screenplays. Barbara Stock was replaced as Susan Silverman in the first two movies by Barbara Williams and in the other two by veteran actress Wendy Crewson (Air Force One). Parker's son Daniel appears in all four movies as a waiter in Spenser's favorite restaurant. Unlike the series, which often filmed in Boston, the new movies filmed in Toronto. One of the movies was based on Parker's novel A Savage Place.

See also

External links

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