Edmund Spenser (c. 1552 - 13 January 1599) was an English poet best known for The Faerie Queene, an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I. He is recognized as one of the premier craftsmen of English verse in its infancy, and one of the greatest poets in the language. The poem is deeply allegorical and allusive: many prominent Elizabethans could have found themselves or one another partially represented by one or more of Spenser's figures. Elizabeth herself is the most prominent example: she appears most prominently in her guise as Gloriana, the Faerie Queene herself.
This 1751 edition of The Faerie Queene is chiefly notable for its "endearingly peculiar" illustrations by William Kent. William Kent was most famous as an architect, rather than an illustrator, and he included pictures of some of his own architectural designs in several illustrations. As scholar Hazel Wilkinson has pointed out, "As well as giving his architectural work a bit of free advertising, I think Kent was trying to point out the continuing relevance of The Faerie Queene to his audience by setting it in a modern landscape: During the eighteenth century, people delighted in adapting The Faerie Queene's allegory to reflect on current political events satirists often imagined their opponents as unsavoury characters from the poem, like Archimago the deceptive wizard, for instance."