- Lily, William
- (ca. 1468-1522)English humanist and teacher, first grand master of the reorganized St. Paul's school founded by John Colet, dean of St. Paul's cathedral. After graduation from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1486, Lily went on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, stopped on Rhodes to study Greek, and then spent several years perfecting his skills as a classical scholar at Rome and Venice before returning to England. In 1512 Colet chose Lily as head of the new school. While he was fully in sympathy with Colet's intention to create a pious and explicitly Christian spirit for the school, he did not fully share Colet's reservations about using pagan classical authors as readings for grammar-school students. Lily gradually subverted Colet's preference for studying ancient Christian authors and began the transformation of the school into a first-class center for classical studies. He was a friend of Thomas More, with whom he published Progymnasmata (1521), Latin translations of Greek epigrams. For Colet's school, Lily produced Grammatices rudimenta / Rudiments of Grammar (first published in 1527 but used in the school from about 1513) and several other grammatical works which in 1540 were brought together into a comprehensive Latin grammar book, Institutio compendiaria totius grammaticae. King Henry VIII made Lily's Institutio the textbook required for use in all English schools, and it retained this official status well into the 17th century.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.
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