Thomas May

Thomas May was born in Sussex. He graduated from Cambridge in 1612 and went on to produce many pieces of work including several poems, tragedies on Classical subjects and two comedies. He also translated Lucan's Pharsalia (1626-27) and Vergil's Georgics (1628). He wrote two historical poems on the reigns of Henry II (1633) and Edward III (1635); the politics and issues of the monarchy was an obvious interest to May. During this period religion was inextricably entwined with politics. May was a strict and passionate Puritan; he was a secretary to the Long Parliament and wrote a History of the Parliament of England (1650). The Puritans made it very clear in Charles' father's reign that their intentions were to use Parliament to their advantage. (Hill,1965: 46)

He was a disappointed candidate for Poet Laureate (D'Avenant was chosen) and was said to have drunk himself to death; he is buried in Westminster Abbey. In his younger years he was a protégé of Ben Jonson and in Andrew Marvell's poem about May, Jonson is referred to. Although Marvell was a Puritan, he had sympathies with Charles I and so did not hold back his scorn for May in his Poem, "Tom May's Death" (Miscellaneous poems, 1681). And in his famous Horatian Ode upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland (1650) he makes a tribute to the courage and dignity of Charles. Thomas May disagreed; like many other devout Puritans, he felt very strongly against Queen Henrietta Maria and her marriage to their King and we can assume this was one of May's motivations for writing this play.