Thomas Campion was born in London, England in February of 1567. His parents, John and Lucy Campion, and both died when he was a child. At a young age, around fourteen, he was sent to Cambridge. He left the school without receiving a degree but his time was not completely wasted as he did come into contact with a number of other writers.
A few years later, when he was around nineteen, he enrolled at Gray’s Inn, one of the four professional associations for barristers and judges in London. There is little know about his time at this institute aside from the fact that he participated in plays and left without having been called to the bar in 1595.
Starting in the early 1590s he began to publish. His first collection was released in Latin in 1591 and was titled, Thomae Campiani Poemata. This work included epigrams, or short witty sayings, as well as elegies and an almost complete epic poem. It was followed by A Booke of Ayres in which Campion wrote a great number of musical accompaniments to his own lyrical works. The next year saw the collection, Observations in the Art of English Poesie. He wrote this collection with the intention of taking a stand against the traditional rhyming English verse.
Over the following years, Campion turned almost exclusively to composition. In 1601 he contributed to Book of Ayeres, a collection of songs. His music was considered to be of the highest quality. Campion then published a book of prosody or work that spoke on the theory of rhyme and sound within poetry. It focused specifically on how music and poetry are related.
Campion was strongly set against rhyming in poetry. In fact, he saw it as a childish exercise very much out of date. It was around this time that Campion took up a medical practice in London. This would be his main source of income for the rest of his life.
Campion’s most famous book, A New Way of Making Fowre Parts in Counterpoint By a Most Familiar and Infallible Rule, was published in 1615. Upon its publication, and for many years afterward, it was considered the standard volume for the study of counterpoint, or how voices harmonize together and separately.
Campion died in March of 1620 in London. Although the exact cause of his death is unknown, it is thought he died of the plague. He died without ever marrying and with only twenty-three pounds to his name.