Back to the Museum

    John Owen's Epigrams

    John Owen was born in Wales around 1564, and his genius at writing epigrams, or witty Latin verses, made him famous all around Europe.  He was appointed as schoolmaster to the King’s School, Warwick around the year 1595, and was still in office in 1614.  He died in 1622 and was buried in the old St Paul’s Cathedral, London.  He was known as “the English Martial” after the Spanish poet Martialis, whose Latin epigrams were published in Rome between AD 86 and 103.

    The controversial headmaster of Warwick School from 1896–1902, Rev Robert Percival Brown, bought a 1622 collected edition of John Owen’s Epigrams “at some expense” and, in 1933, offered it back to the school.  He did not think very highly of humour, even in Latin:  “After shivering through the volume”, he wrote to the headmaster at the time, “I expect that you will agree that the English Martial was much over-rated.”  The book was in poor condition, and a protective sleeve was commissioned before it was lodged in the present headmaster’s study.

    1. OB49 John Owen Epigrams