"We shalbe fitte for greater matters"rhetorical connections between the Boys of St. Paul's and John Lyly's drama

  1. Cinta Zunino Garrido
Proceedings of the 30th International AEDEAN Conference: [electronic resource]
  1. María Losada Friend (ed. lit.)
  2. Pilar Ron Vaz (ed. lit.)
  3. Sonia Hernández Santano (ed. lit.)
  4. Jorge Casanova García (ed. lit.)

Publisher: Universidad de Huelva

ISBN: 978-84-96826-31-1

Year of publication: 2007

Congress: Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos. Congreso (30. 2006. Huelva)

Type: Conference paper


After the success of the two parts of his Euphues in 1578 and 1580, John Lyly started writing plays for the Boys of St. Paul's, who used to perform at the Blackfriars Theatre. Rather than a personal option, however, Lyly's turn to drama was the result of the purchase of the Blackfriars by his Patron, the Earl of Oxford, who put Lyly in charge of the theatre. This change in his career marked Lyly's adaptation of his style to the demands of the boy actors' dramatic abilities. As most of the boys that comprised these companies had been educated at grammar schools, they were well-trained in the arts of rhetoric and their plays were in close connection with the type of activities that were designed for the instruction of the different oratorical skills. Bearing this in mind, Lyly therefore tried to benefit from both their rhetorical training and their acting skills, which obviously favoured the enhancing of all the rhetorical accomplishments displayed in his dramatic work. Having then first a brief look at the genesis of these companies and Lyly's casual relation to the Boys of St. Paul's, the purpose of this paper is thus the analysis of how Lyly's connection with this boys' company entailed a new stage in the evolution of his polished style and how the boys' rhetorical aptitudes improved the effects of Lyly's dramatic prose.