George Chapman was born at Hitchin in Hertfordshire in about 1559. There is some evidence that Chapman attended Oxford University but did not obtain a degree, but the evidence is rather scant.
During the first part of the early 1590s Chapman was in Europe, in military action in the Low Countries fighting under the famed English general Sir Francis Vere.
It is from this period that his earliest published works are found including the obscure philosophical poems The Shadow of Night (1594) and Ovid's Banquet of Sense (1595).
By the end of the 1590s, Chapman had become a successful playwright, working for the Elizabethan Theatrical entrepreneur, Philip Henslowe, and later for the Children of the Chapel.
From 1598 he published his translation of the Iliad in installments. In 1616 the complete Iliad and Odyssey appeared in The Whole Works of Homer, the first complete English translation, which until Alexander Pope's, was the most popular in the English language and was the entry point for most English readers of these magnificent poems.
The great Ben Jonson was also using Chapman’s talents in the play Eastward Ho (1605), co-written with John Marston. Both Chapman and Jonson landed in jail over some satirical references to the Scots in the play but both were quick to say that Marston was the culprit.
Chapman also wrote one of the most successful masques of the Jacobean era, The Memorable Masque of the Middle Temple and Lincoln's Inn, performed on February 15th, 1613. Another masque, The Masque of the Twelve Months, performed on Twelfth Night 1619 is also now given as Chapman’s.
George Chapman died in London on May 12th, 1634 having lived his latter years in poverty and debt. He was buried at St Giles in the Fields.