Ben Jonson, poet, great playwright, lover of controversy and who knows if a friend of Shakespeare … or not.

If Shakespeare had not existed, perhaps the name of Ben Ben Johnson Johnson – the British poet and theater writer – would be better known than it already is, although this is still a mere hypothesis; the truth and truth is that he is one of the most notable writers in the English language, a cultured person, even a scholar, paid for himself but, above all, excessively visceral.

To speak of Ben Jonson is to speak of a man from the 17th century, so the information we have is that which he himself or his closest associates have left written about this English scholar; we know that he was born in Westminster but was of Scottish descent, his father died shortly before he was born and his mother later married a Master Mason; Jonson was a brilliant boy in school and was destined to attend Cambridge University; We do not know what happened but when the days of the university arrived, Jonson not only did not go to Cambridge but began to work, probably as a bricklayer; he was short-lived in that assignment and enlisted in the army.

We know that he married and that at least two of his children died when they were still young; his impulsive character and his facility to judge everything and everyone made him end up with his bones in jail on two occasions; In addition, in the literary field, he lived his glory years around 1607, time in which what is considered his essential work was published: Volpone and in which he was also an important writer of masquerades for the court of James I; But when he lost the favor of the court – although he continued to write masquerades, not feeling himself the favorite, given his character, was for him an unbearable blow to his pride – and when his plays began to be less successful than the previous ones, he experienced a Calvary of economic hardships and broken health that would take him to the end of his days.

We know that he knew Shakespeare but even today, after reviewing his writings and those of those who wrote about both, we are not quite clear if they were friends or enemies; What is certain is that Ben Jonson, despite the acidity of some of his comments, considered Shakespeare a genius, thus respecting the art of the famous theater writer – much less erudite than he was – while the Shakespeare’s own theater company performed some of Johnson’s plays, at least one of which Shakespeare himself performed.

Nor are there many doubts about Jonson’s impossible character, his vast culture but no more discreet arrogance, his sharp tongue, his little confidence in the masses and his taste for the elites. He was the favorite son, culturally, of the court of James I and when he was succeeded by his son, he lost part of his predicament, it was a moral blow for him.

He was buried standing up – indicating that he died under economic hardship – in Westminster Abbey and there he lies under a simple epitaph: Pray for Ben Jonson – which seems to indicate that at his death he still embraced the Catholic faith to which he had been turned into one of his stays in jail.

Your Famous Quotes and Phrases

  • 1 / 6


    There is no greater hell than to be a prisoner of fear.

  • 2 / 6


    Success produces confidence; confidence relaxes industry, and negligence ruins the reputation which accuracy had raised.

  • 3 / 6


    Ambition makes more trusty slaves than need.

  • 4 / 6


    Apes are apes, though clothed in scarlet.

  • 5 / 6


    Let them call it mischief: When it is past and prospered t’will be virtue.

  • 6 / 6


    He knows not his own strength that has not met adversity.