Fletcher, Giles,the elder, 1548?–1611, English writer and diplomat. He became a member of Parliament and later treasurer of St. Paul's. An envoy to Russia in 1588, he published an account of his experiences, Of the Russe Common Wealth (1591). His principal poetic work is a sonnet sequence, Licia (1593).
His younger son, Giles Fletcher, the younger, b. 1585 or 1586, d. 1623, was also a poet. Educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, he served as a reader in Greek until 1618, when he took holy orders; he became rector at Alderton, Suffolk, in 1619. His best poem, Christ's Victory and Triumph (1610), an example of baroque devotional poetry, owed much to Spenser.
Giles Fletcher the elder's first son, Phineas Fletcher, 1582–1650, was a poet also. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, he was ordained in 1611. Although he was called the Spenser of his age and had an influence on the writing of Milton, he is chiefly remembered for The Purple Island (1633), a belabored allegorical poem on the human body and mind. His other works include The Locusts or Apollyonists (1627), Britain's Ida (1628), and A Father's Testament (1670).
See The English Works of Giles Fletcher, the Elder, ed. by L. E. Berry (1963).
(Giles Fletcher the Elder). Born circa 1549 in Watford; died March 1611 in London. English writer and diplomat.
Fletcher was ambassador to Russia in 1588–89, during which time he secured the expansion of the Muscovy Company’s privileges (seeMUSCOVY COMPANY). He is the author of Of the Russe Common Wealth (1591; Russian translation, St. Petersburg, 1905), in which he described the Russian countryside and political system, as well as the daily life and customs of the different strata of Russian society. His book was one of the most detailed and comprehensive studies of 16th-century Russia written by a foreigner. Some of his information, such as the statistical data on the Russian budget, is unique and important for the understanding of a number of problems in Russian history. However, Fletcher’s numerous factual inaccuracies and his inclination to portray Russian society in the gloomiest possible light detract from the value of his work.