The son of John Harington of Stepney, Harington of Kelston was Queen Elizabeth's godson and one of her sometimes favorites; he translated Orlando Furioso at her behest. He attended Eton College (1570) before entering King's College Cambridge as a fellow-commoner in 1576 (B.A. 1578, M.A. 1581) and Lincoln's Inn (1581). Harington was High Sheriff of Somerset in 1591, commander-of-horse with Essex in Ireland (1598) and was knighted in 1599. He was sent on Essex's behalf to intercede with the Queen; failing, he retired to Kelston. Later in life he was a tutor to Prince Henry. Harington's epigrams were highly esteemed by his contemporaries.
Orlando furioso in English heroical verse. 1591.
An anatomie of the Metamorphosed Ajax. 1596.
An apologie; or rather a retraction. 1596.
A new discourse of a stale subject called the Metamorphosis of Ajax. 1596.
Ulysses upon Ajax. Written by Misodiaboles. 1596.
The Englishmans doctor [trans. Harington]. 1607.
Epigrammes by Sir J. H. and others. 1613.
The Englishmans doctor: or the school of Salerne [J. de Mediolano, trans Harington]. 1607.
The most elegant and witty epigrams of Sir J. Harington. 1618.
A briefe view of the state of the Church of England, ed. J. Chetwind. 1653.
Nugae antiquae. 2 vols, 1769-75; 3 vols 1779.
Letters and epigrams, ed. Norman E. McClure. 1930.
The Arundel Harington manuscript, ed. Ruth Hughey. 2 vols, 1960.