The Life of Richard Hooker (1554-1600)

Portrait of Hooker
        Richard Hooker was born in March 1554 in Exeter. He was educated in Exeter until he was sent, with Bishop Jewel as his patron, to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He graduated MA in 1577, and became a fellow of the college in the same year. He became assistant professor of Hebrew at the University, and took holy orders, becoming a clergyman in the Church of England in 1581. Hooker was Master of the Temple (i.e. Dean of the Law School) in 1585-1591. Thereafter he lived in London and then at Boscombe, Wiltshire. He died at Bishopsbourne, in Kent, where he had become vicar.
        Hooker's masterpiece is a long work in eight books called Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. The first four books were published together in 1593, the fifth was published in 1597, and the rest appeared after his death. Although the last three volumes were Hooker's work, they seem to have been heavily edited. The work represents one of the most distinguished examples of Elizabethan literature. King James I is quoted by Izaak Walton, Hooker's biographer, as saying, "I observe there is in Mr. Hooker no affected language; but a grave, comprehensive, clear manifestation of reason, and that backed with the authority of the Scriptures, the fathers and schoolmen, and with all law both sacred and civil."1

1 Walton, Izaak. "Mr. Richard Hooker." Lives of the Poets.
London: J. M. Dent, 1898. 75.


Faulkner, Robert K., Richard Hooker and the Politics of a Christian England (1981)
Grislis, Egil, Richard Hooker: A Selected Bibliography (1971)
Munz, Peter, The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought (1952, repr. 1971).

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Created by Anniina Jokinen on August 8, 1996. Last updated on June 1, 2006.