Edward Hake flourished in the late sixteenth century, writing Puritan satire, legal treatises, and translations of Erasmus and Thomas a Kempis. The date of his birth is unkown (probably c. 1545), but it is thought he grew up in the town of New Windsor, Berkshire. He was educated by Rev. John Hopkins, and then studied law at Barnard's and Gray's Inns. Hake went on to become an accomplished barrister and politician. He served as mayor of New Windsor from 1586-1588; the records can be found in the Annals of Windsor. In 1588 he served as a member of Parliament for six months, but the Parliament was dissolved soon after and Hake was not reelected (Wilson 174). As evidenced in the themes of his satires, Hake was a stalwart Puritan. His writing style is generally unpolished; yet it has also been praised as "vigorous and racy" (Bullen 889) and as “stately” (Eccles 58). Hake was well enough known in his lifetime to be satirized in George Turberville's translation of A Plain Path to Perfect Virtue (Wilson 171).
Hake's earliest work was the first translation of Erasmus' Diversoria (1566) into English, which earned him a place in literary history. In 1567, Hake wrote his most famous piece, News out of Paul's Churchyard, which "applies the language commonly found within discussions of maidservants to a 'satyr' of London's prodigals more generally" (Phillipy 446). In this work Hake denounces clerical and legal abuses, criticizes the practices of physicians, apothecaries and surgeons, and bemoans the fact that "prostitutes, maidservants, panderers [and] brokers profit from the economic and moral waste that follows in their wake"(Phillipy 447). Following News, Hake wrote sporadically and only published one more book in his lifetime. However, in 1953 his legal treatise, Epikeika, was published. Originally presented as a manuscript to Sir Julius Caesar in1597, and to King James in 1604, it now provides "a glimpse into the conceptual and institutional interconnections between the literary and legal enterprises"(Wilson 175) of the late sixteenth century.
Hake's final work, Of Gold's Kingdom was published in 1604 during the plague (Bullen 890). This work demonstrates his "skill as a lyric poet. . . [and] has not received the attention it deserves" (Wilson 176). Gold's Kingdom continues the theme out of News out of Paul's Churchyard: "the pernicious influence of money over human behavior" (Wilson 175). Unlike News, the themes of Gold's Kingdom extend to a variety of topics that are not solely confined to Puritan satire. Hake uses a range of forms and styles, experimenting with verse fable, counsel for the king, satire, encomium, and lyric (Wilson 175). Overall, Gold's Kingdom is much more sombre and introspective than Hake's earlier works. Following Gold's Kingdom, the last record of Hake is found in 1608, when he signed his last pleadings as a barrister (Eccles 59).