James Howell

Date 1594?–1666
Biographical NotesHistorian and political writer. In his early career Howell travelled widely. In 1616 he was sent abroad under a warrant for three years travel issued by the privy council. In 1622 he travelled to France as tutor to Richard Altham. Later that year he was sent to Spain and Sardinia to secure the release of an impounded English vessel. In 1632 he accompanied Robert Sidney on an embassy to Denmark. In 1639 he visited Sir Thomas Wentworth in Dublin. He was acquainted with John and Kenelm Digby and Ben Jonson. He dedicated his 'Instructions for Forreine Travel' (1642) to Prince Charles.

Despite these positions Howell was disappointed in his ambitions for significant public office and from the 1640s he began instead a prolific literary career which stretched until the end of his life. Though he authored numerous works on literary and political topics he is best remembered for his 'Familiar Letters', a series of epistolary recollections of his travels and the peoples and places he encountered, seemingly written in his imprisonment in Fleet Street in the 1640s. See ODNB.
Work(s)Author of Instructions for Forreine Travell Shewing by What Cours, and in What Compasse of Time, one May Take an Exact Survey of the Kingdomes and States of Christendome, and Arrive to the Practicall Knowledge of the Languages, to Good Purpose (1642)