Joshua Sylvester was born in Kent and raised by an uncle; he was educated at a Southampton grammar school run by Hadrianus Saravia, a Belgian clergyman (1573-76). He entered the cloth trade about 1576 and was later a servant of the earl of Essex. A Groom of the Chamber, he was pensioned by Prince Henry (1608-12). After the death of the prince Sylvester removed to Middelburg, Zealand as secretary to the merchant adventurers (1613-18). His translations from the French of Du Bartas were enormously popular in the seventeenth century.
Du Bartas, A canticle of the victorie obteined by Henrie the Fourth at Yvry [trans. Sylvester]. 1590.
Du Bartas, The triumph of faith. The sacrifice of Isaac [trans. Sylvester]. 1592.
Odet de la Noue, The profit of imprisonment: a paradox [trans. Sylvester]. 1594.
Monodia: an elegie. 1594.
Du Bartas, The second weeke or childhood of the world [trans. Sylvester]. 1598.
Du Nesme, The miracle of the peace in France [trans. Sylvester]. 1599.
Bartas his devine weekes and workes. 1605.
Tetrastika. Or the quadrains of Guy de Faur, Lord of Pibrac [trans. Sylvester]. 1605.
Posthumous Bartas: the third day of his second week. 1606.
Posthumous Bartas: the fore-noone of the fourth day of his second week. 1607.
Automachia: the self-conflict of a Christian [trans. Goodwin]. 1607.
Lachrimae lachrimarum. 1612.
The parliament of vertues royal. 1614.
St. Lewis, the king. 1615.
The second session of the parliament of vertues reall. 1615.
Tobacco battered & the pipes shattered. 1617-20.
The sacred workes of that famous poet Silvester. 1620.
Fracastoro, The maidens blush: or Joseph [trans. Sylvester]. 1620.
The wood-mans bear: a poeme. 1620.
Panthea: or divine wishes and meditations. 1630.
The complete works, ed. A. B. Grosart. 2 vols, 1880.
Nebuchadnezzer's fiery furnace, ed. M. Rosler. 1936.
The divine weeks and works of Guillaume de Saluste Sieur Du Bartas, ed. Susan Snyder. 2 vols, 1979.