George Gascoigne, the son of landowner and farmer John Gascoigne, was born in Cardington, Bedfordshire, England. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge, and replaced his father as an almoner at Elizabeth I’s coronation. However, as a farmer George Gascoigne was unsuccessful: he was imprisoned for debt and yet served in Parliament for two years, beginning in 1557. In 1571 Gascoigne joined the army, serving under the Prince of Orange in the Netherlands and at one point facing accusations of treason.
George Gascoigne wrote poetry, plays, and prose. His first play, Supposes— a translation of I Suppositi by Ludovico Ariosto—was published in 1566. His collection of poems and a prose novella, A Hundreth Sundrie Flowres (1573), was deemed offensive by many. It was republished as The Posies of George Gascoigne Esquire (1575). Gascoigne was also the author of The Steele Glas, “A Satyre compiled by George Gascoigne Esquire,” on the senselessness of war. His The Adventures of Master F.J. (1573), a hybrid of poetry and prose considered by some to have been autobiographical, was published in two different versions. Gascoigne wrote an essay on writing, “Certayne Notes of Instruction on Making of Verse” (1575). His Spoyle of Antwerp (1576) gave an account of a visit to Paris and Antwerp for business.
Shakespeare may have used Supposes as a source for part of The Taming of the Shrew. Gascoigne died of an illness near Stamford.