Background on Uppon a Deedmans Hed

Connected Background



Introduction and Background to

The first printed version of the poem dates from 1527 according to the STC (22611) and was printed by John Rastell (Freeman 411). The poem is also found in STC 22608 (Workes, ed. J. Stow, T. Marshe (1568)). Although the sender of the skull, ‘honorable Jentyllwoman’, has not been identified (Scattergood 392), Kinsman supposes that the sender might be Lady Margaret – Henry Tudor’s mother and concurrently offers a date of composition (106). Kinsman argues that the poem suits Skelton’s activities in the late 1490s. In 1498 when Skelton became a priest, he was also tutor to Prince Henry and Lady Margaret supervised these tutor sessions. As such, the poem seems to prove simultaneously Skelton’s Christian morality as a priest and his didactic strength as tutor. Moreover, Kinsman sees this poem as a bridge between Skelton the courtly ‘maker’ and Skelton the ecclesiastical satirist. Finally, Kinsman also claims that this poem is the first experiment in Skeltonics (106).