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Earl of Surrey

Surrey, Earl of (1517?–47), English poet. Surrey was born into the English nobility and received a classical education in France. He was knighted in 1541 and was a member of the court of King Henry VIII.

Surrey's friendship with King Henry's illegitimate son, the duke of Richmond, created speculation that he was part of a treason plot against the king. This led to his arrest and beheading. Surrey's major achievement is his contribution of verse styles to English poetry. His translation of The Aeneid was the first English usage of blank verse. Together with Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503–42), Surrey introduced to English poetry the Petrarchan sonnet form used in Italy. Surrey and Wyatt's The Book of Songs and Sonnets was published in 1557. Many English poets and writers subsequently wrote in blank verse and the sonnet form, creating an age of high poetic achievement in England.

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