RANDOLPH, THOMAS (1605-1635) Born in Northamptonshire, Thomas Randolph gained an education at Westminster and moved to Trinity College, Cambridge, taking his degree in 1628. He was awarded a master's degree in 1632 and became a fellow before publishing well-received comedy and becoming one of the Tribe of Ben. While living at home with his father, Randolph completed a brief and promising career writing drama and poetry; he dedicated three poems to Ben Jonson, including "To Ben Jonson." His earliest work, Aristippus, Or, the Joviall Philosopher. Presented in a Private Shew, To which is Added, The Conceited Pedlar (1626), was a burlesque debating the merit of sack, or wine, over small beer. Students at Trinity College, Cambridge, staged his The Jealous Lovers (1632) for the king and queen; additional stage plays included The Muses Looking-Glass (1630), which reflects influence by Jonson, and Amyn-tas, or The Impossible Dowry (1630). The latter included several poems, some in Latin, and while beautifully conceived, has been judged incapable of staging.

Debate continues over whether Randolph might have written Hey for Honest, Down with Knavery. His early death has also left critics to debate what might have been his eventual influence on British literature had he lived out a normal span. Considered brilliant and highly intelligent by many, he has been characterized as one who might have threatened the popularity of John Dryden had he enjoyed a longer career. Several of his lovely lyrics and occasional poems have been regularly anthologized, including excerpts from the pastoral "Cotswold Eclogue," labeled one of the best eclogues in the English language, and his. "Ode to Master Anthony Stafford." Randolph died before age 30 and was buried in Blatherwick Church on the property of his friend William Stafford of Blatherwick.

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