He was the son of a farmer and was educated at the King's School, Worcester, under Henry Bright whose teaching is recorded favourably by Thomas Fuller a contemporary writer in his Worthies of England. In early youth he was page to the Countess of Kent, and thereafter clerk to various Puritan justices, some of whom are believed to have suggested characters in Hudibras. Through Lady Kent he met John Selden who influenced his later writings. He also tried his hand at painting but was reportedly not very good at it; one of his editors reporting that "his pictures served to stop windows and save the tax" (on window glass).
Read The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler, one of 12 of his works available free from Project Gutenberg.