British Ephemeral Literature Criticism: Chapbooks, Jestbooks, Pamphlets, And Newspapers - Essay

Matthias A. Shaaber (essay date 1929)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Personal News,” in Some Forerunners of the Newspaper in England, 1476-1622, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1929, pp. 13-34.

[In the following excerpt, Shaaber shows that broadside ballads and other inexpensive verse often served as a means of disseminating news about the British royalty and popular heroes, and he notes that these publications eventually evolved into newspapers.]

Personal news, as we may call it, is probably the oldest kind. It is a record or, more often, merely a celebration of the achievements of a personage of importance, from the sovereign himself to a prominent London merchant, written by one of his liegemen, retainers, or clients,...

(The entire section is 7093 words.)

P. M. Zall (essay date 1970)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Blending of Wit and Jest: An Introduction,” in “A Nest of Ninnies” and Other English Jestbooks of the Seventeenth Century, edited by P. M. Zall, University of Nebraska Press, 1970, pp. ix-xvii.

[In the following excerpt, Zall traces the evolution of jests and puns in English printed materials beginning in the 1400s, examining in detail works from the seventeenth century.]


… [The] making of jestbooks became an industry in the seventeenth century, expanding with the development of a larger reading public. Jestbooks flourished throughout the land, feeding one upon another in a happy...

(The entire section is 3141 words.)

Stephen S. Hilliard (essay date 1986)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “The Devil's Orator: Pierce Penniless,” in The Singularity of Thomas Nashe, University of Nebraska Press, 1986, pp. 62-89.

[In the following excerpt, Hilliard examines why Thomas Nashe's 1592 pamphlet Pierce Penniless, with its satire of Elizabethan ideals, opened the author up to widespread criticism.]

A suggestion of how Nashe's career appeared to his contemporaries exists in a fictionalized portrait in The Three Parnassus Plays, a sequence of comedies performed at Cambridge around the turn of the century. Ingenioso, who barely survives on the fees he collects from his printer John Danter (Nashe's printer), alternately fawns and rails...

(The entire section is 10387 words.)

John Simons (essay date 1998)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Introduction: Why Read Chapbooks,” in Guy of Warwick and Other Chapbook Romances, edited by John Simons, University of Exeter Press, 1998, pp. 1-18.

[In the following excerpt, Simons discusses how broadsides were created and produced and illustrates how they slowly changed the social aspirations of English commoners.]

[Chapbooks were] the flimsy and often poorly printed booklets which were a major source of literature for the English poor in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.1 There is a full discussion of the nature and form of chapbooks below as well as some analysis of their history and readership, but here I wish to set out...

(The entire section is 7864 words.)