Ascham, Roger (ca. 1515–1568)

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Ascham, Roger (ca. 15151568)

A noted scholar of England, Ascham was born in Yorkshire and entered Cambridge University at the age of fourteen. He became so proficient in ancient Greek studies that he presented lectures on the subject to his fellow students, and won widespread admiration for his writing and speaking abilities. He completed his bachelor's degree at the age of eighteen and soon after was made a fellow of the university. Wearied by the constant study, writing, and lecturing, Ascham diligently applied himself as well to the sport of archery. His work Toxophilus was an essay on the manly, English sport, and imparted the lesson that practice, physical work, and sheer repetition is more useful in certain arts than mere theory. The essay, written in a straightforward English free of the pretentious language of other academics, won the favor of King Henry VIII, who granted Ascham a pension of ten pounds a year and hired him as a tutor to his daughter Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I. Ascham instilled a love of the Greek and Latin classics in Elizabeth, and as a respected scholar he was appointed by Henry as a diplomat. He became Latin secretary to Queen Mary and continued in the position as secretary when Elizabeth succeeded her half sister to the throne of England. Ascham was a key figure in the teaching of classical literature in the English Renaissance. Late in his life he completed The Scholemaster, a famous treatise on the teaching of Latin.

See Also: Elizabeth I; Henry VIII