This selection includes the full text of the "Defence of Poetry" and "Astrophil and Stella", fully annotated, with a selection of the other poems. "When Sidney died," writes Richard Dutton, "those who mourned him did so as a hero of Protestant Europe, a model of Christian virtue, of the Renaissance scholar-poet, of the true knight." Dutton corrects the exaggerations in the popular view, painting a human, fallible and credible figure. He also emerges as a more sympathetic writer, losing the coldness of the heroic gloss that normally accompanies him.
Sir Philip Sidney is the first major poet-critic. His biographer, Fulke Greville, portrayed him as a model of correctness, noble bearing and heroism. Sidney was a considerable figure in his day and is still renowned for his three major literary works: The Defence of Poetry (the first great essay on poetry in English), Astrophil and Stella (one of the finest of the English sonnet sequences) and Arcadia ( a romance with a claim to be the first English novel).