Died on this day – 3 September

Woodcut of Green suited in deaths livery
Woodcut of Greene suited in deaths livery

Robert Greene (baptized 11 July 1558, died 3 September 1592) was an English author popular in his day, and now best known for a posthumous pamphlet attributed to him, Greenes, Groats-worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance. The pamphlet is most famous for a passage which appears to allude to William Shakespeare, who was then starting out on his career as an actor and playwright.

Greene is said to have been born in Norwich. He attended Cambridge, receiving a B.A. in 1580, and an M.A. in 1583 before moving to London, where he arguably became the first professional author in England.

Greene published in many genres including romances, plays and autobiography. In 1592 he visited Montmorillon in France where he is known to have called at the Glass Key bookshop. He died in Montmorillon ‘of a surfeit of pickle herring and Rhenish wine’ according to Gabriel Harvey who announced his death in a letter to Christopher Bird dated 5 September.

Greene’s colourful and irresponsible character has led some to speculate that he may have served as the model for Shakespeare’s Falstaff.