Playwright and poet. Born in Westminster, possibly, and a committed Londoner, though also of proud Scottish descent. Imprisoned three times, once for his first play which was deemed to be "lewd, seditious and sklandrous". His first hit was at The Curtain Theatre with Shakespeare in the cast. Best known for his satirical plays, such as 'Volpone' and 'The Alchemist'. In 1618 he walked from London to Scotland in 10 weeks, for a bet, it is thought.
In a duel on 22 September 1598 at Pimlico Tavern in Hoxton Jonson killed the actor, Gabriel Spencer. The cause of the duel is unknown but Spencer had, two years previous in Shoreditch, killed someone else, James Feake, in what sounds like an argument that got out of hand. We're not suggesting that the two murders were related, just that the times were tough. Spencer somehow escaped any serious punishment, as did Jonson by pleading "benefit of clergy" which sounds like a get-out-of-jail-free card. He did get a brand on his left thumb.
Long rumoured to have been buried standing up, which would mean the coffin was interred vertically. Luckily for us the grave had to be disturbed in the C19th to allow another burial and there are reports that indeed Jonson was vertical, but the coffin-bearers got it wrong and buried him upside down. Great story, hope it's true.