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The English Renaissance 1500-1620 (Blackwell Guides to Literature)


The English Renaissance 1500-1620 (Blackwell Guides to Literature) Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This lively and stimulating book guides students through the historical contexts, key figures, texts, themes and issues in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century English literature. The English Renaissance, 1500-1620 sets out the historical and cultural contexts of Renaissance England, highlighting the background voices and events which influenced literary production, including the Reformation, the British problem, perceptions of other cultures and the voyages to the Americas.

A series of short biographical essays on the key writers of the period explain their significance, and explore a variety of perspectives with which to approach them. In-depth analyses of a number of well-studied texts are also provided, indicating why each text is important and suggesting ways in which each might usefully be read. Texts featured include Astrophil and Stella, Othello, Utopia, Dr Faustus, The Tragedy of Miriam, The Unfortunate Traveller and the Faerie Queene.

The volume charts the intricacies of English Renaissance literature, taking in a variety of themes including women, gender and the question of homosexuality; the stage; printing and censorship; humanism and education and rhetoric. Attention is also drawn to current debates in Renaissance criticism such as New Historicism and Cultural Materialism, thus the book provides students with an unparalleled foundation for further study.

Fully cross-referenced, with a useful chronology, glossary and suggestions for further reading, this much-needed guide conveys the excitement of reading Renaissance literature.


This work guides students through the historical contexts, key figures, texts, themes and issues in 16th- and early 17th-century English literature, setting out the historical and cultural contexts of Renaissance England.

About the Author

Andrew Hadfield is a Professor at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. His previous books include Literature, Travel and Colonial Writing in the English Renaissance, 1545-1625 (1998). He has also edited a number of collections of essays and anthologies on literature in the early modern period in the British Isles.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations.



A History of the English Renaissance.

Political and Religious Developments.

The British Isles.

Exploration, Discovery, and Colonisation in the Americas.


Roger Ascham (1515-68).

Francis Bacon (1561-1626).

John Bale (1495-1563).

Alexander Barclay (1475?-1552).

Thomas Campion (1567-1620).

Elizabeth Cary (1585-1639).

George Chapman (c.1560-1634).

Samuel Daniel (1562/3- 1619).

Sir John Davies (1569-1626).

Thomas Dekker (c.1570-1632).

John Donne (1572-1631).

Michael Drayton (1563-1631).

John Fletcher (1579-1625).

John Florio (1553-1625).

George Gascoigne (c.1534-77).

Barnaby Googe (1540-94).

Robert Greene (c.1558-92).

Sir Fulke Greville, First Baron Brooke (1554-1628).

Joseph Hall (1574-1656).

Gabriel Harvey (1550?-1631).

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517?-47).

Ben Jonson (1572-1637).

Thomas Kyd (1558-94).

Aemilia Lanyer (1569-1645).

John Lyly (1554?-1606).

Christopher Marlowe (1564-93).

John Marston (1576-1634).

Thomas Middleton (c.1580-1627).

Thomas More (1477-1535).

Thomas Nashe (1567-1601).

Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618).

William Shakespeare (1564-1616).

Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke (1561-1621).

Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86).

John Skelton (1460?-1529).

Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599).

William Tyndale (1494?-1536).

John Webster (c.1580-c.1634).

Isabella Whitney (fl. 1567-73).

Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503?-42).

Key Texts.

Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry and George Puttenham (?), The Art of English Poetry.

Sir Philip Sidney, The Arcadia.

Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella.

Christopher Marlowe, Dr. Faustus.

John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi.

Ben Jonson, Every Man in his Humour.

Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene.

Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville, Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex.

Ben Jonson, Poetry.

A Mirror for Magistrates.

William Shakespeare, Othello.

William Shakespeare, Richard II.

Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker's Holiday.

John Donne, Songs and Sonnets and Divine Poems.

William Shakespeare, Sonnets.

Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy.

Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great, parts one and two.

William Shakespeare, The Tempest.

Elizabeth Cary, The Tragedy of Miriam.

Thomas Nashe, The Unfortunate Traveller.

Thomas More, Utopia.


Humanism, Education, Rhetoric, Genre Theory.

Printing, Manuscript Circulation, and Censorship.

Attitudes to Other Nations and Cultures.

Women, Gender, and Queer Reading.

The Stage.

Current Issues in the criticism of Renaissance literature.

Guide to Further Reading.



Product Details

Hadfield, Andrew
English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
English literature
English literature - Early modern, 1500-
Renaissance -- England.
Literary Criticism : General
Renaissance English Literature
Blackwell Guides to Literature
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
November 2000
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
250 x 100 x 15 mm 16 oz

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"Synopsis" by , This work guides students through the historical contexts, key figures, texts, themes and issues in 16th- and early 17th-century English literature, setting out the historical and cultural contexts of Renaissance England.
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