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date: 12 July 2020

Whythorne, Thomas locked

  • James M. Osborn
  • , revised by Robert McQuillan


(b Ilminster, 1528; d London, cJuly 31, 1596). English lutenist and composer. The discovery in 1955 of his autobiography (written c1576) has made Whythorne the most intimately revealed personality among Elizabethan musicians. After six years at Magdalen College School, Oxford, he matriculated at Magdalen College. His academic career ended with the death of the uncle who had supported him, after which Whythorne became ‘servant and scholar’ to John Heywood for over three years. There, Whythorne ‘learned to play on the virginals, the lute, and to make English verses’. Later he worked as serving-man and music tutor, rising to employment with the Duchess of Northumberland. After the accession of Mary Tudor, Whythorne left for the Continent. His route to and from Naples can be traced in some detail, but he reported little about music or musicians in Italy.

By 1555 Whythorne had become re-established in England as a music tutor. In ...

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J. Hawkins: A General History of the Science and Practice of Music (London, 1776)
J. Kerman: The Elizabethan Madrigal: a Comparative Study (New York, 1962)
C. Burney: A General History of Music from the Earliest Ages to the Present Period (London, 1776-89); ed. F. Mercer (London, 1935/R) [p. nos. refer to this edn]