The first comprehensive biography of Henry Howard, Poet Earl of Surrey, this influential book fills a major gap in the history of early modern British culture. Sessions's narrative combines historical scholarship with close readings of poetic texts and Tudor paintings to explore Surrey'sunique life. The first cousin of Queens Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard (and an influence on his young cousin the Princess Elizabeth), he was beheaded in 1547 on the orders of Henry VIII. Surrey embodied the contradictions of the courtier's role, through his standing both as a representative of theolder nobility and heir to the greatest title outside the royal family, and as a poet who wrote innovative texts and created the most enduring poetic forms in England, the English sonnet and blank verse.More and more, critics and scholars have called for a more contemporary and wider assessment of his role in Tudor society. Sessions uses Surrey's redefinition of the role of Tudor courtier through his poems, his unique portraits, his military campaigns, and his political presence, to reveal how hecreated the first image in England of the Renaissance courtier. Surrey is also shown to embody the rather more modern image of the poet who writes and invents in the midst of radical violence.