Stephen Gosson was an English satirist.
He was baptized at St George's church, Canterbury, on 17 April 1554. He entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, 1572, and on leaving the university in 1576 he went to London. In 1598 Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia mentions him with Sir Philip Sidney, Edmund Spenser, Abraham Fraunce and others as the "best for pastorall", but no pastorals of Gosson's are extant. He is said to have been an actor, and by his own confession he wrote plays, for he speaks of Catiline's Conspiracies as a "Pig of mine own Sowe." Because of their moral standpoint, he excludes such plays as these from the general condemnation of stage plays in his Schoole of Abuse, containing a pleasant invective against Poets, Pipers, Plaiers, Jesters and such like Caterpillars of the Commonwealth.
The euphuistic style of this pamphlet and its ostentatious display of learning were in the taste of the time, and do not necessarily imply insincerity. Gosson justified his attack on the grounds of the disorder which the love of melodrama and of vulgar comedy was introducing into the social life of London. It was not only by extremists like Gosson that these abuses were recognized. Spenser, in his Teares of the Muses, laments the same evils, although only in general terms. The tract was dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney, who seems not unnaturally to have resented being connected with a pamphlet which opened with a comprehensive denunciation of poets, for Spenser, writing to Gabriel Harvey of the dedication, says the author "was for hys labor scorned." He dedicated, however, a second tract, The Ephemerides of Phialo ... and A Short Apologie of the Schoole of Abuse, to Sidney on 28 October 1579.