Thomas Deloney Criticism - Essay

Francis Oscar Mann (essay date 1912)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to The Works of Thomas Deloney, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1912, pp. vii–xxxi.

[In the excerpt below, Mann provides an overview of Deloney's career, calling attention to his straightforward style and his depiction of working-class men and women. The critic asserts that Deloney's prose fiction represents "the highest achievement of the Elizabethan novel."]

The recorded facts of Deloney's life are very scanty. His earliest venture appears to have been A Declaration made by the Archbishop of Cullen upon the Deede of his Mariage (1583), and Kempe in April, 1600, refers to him as having just died. Thus his working literary life lasted...

(The entire section is 3590 words.)

William Domnarski (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "A Different Thomas Deloney: Thomas of Reading Reconsidered," in Renaissance and Reformation, Vol. VI, No. xviii, August, 1982, pp. 197–202.

[In the following essay, Domnarski maintains that Thomas of Reading offers a penetrating, realistic analysis of the social tensions created by radical changes in the Elizabethan economic system.]z7While Greene wrote for the young gallants, 'how young gentlemen that aim at honour should leuel the end of their affections',34 and Petty for 'Gentle Readers, whom by my will I would haue only Gentlewomen',35 Deloney dedicated his novels to the 'famous Cloth Workers in England'36 or 'To the Master...

(The entire section is 1909 words.)

E. D. Mackerness (essay date 1951)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Thomas Deloney and the Virtous Proletariat," in The Cambridge Journal, Vol. V, No. 1, October, 1951, pp. 34–50.

[In the following excerpt, Mackerness contends that Deloney's novels affirm the rigid stratification of Elizabethan society. He points out that historical records clearly show that sixteenth-century cloth workers were exploited by their masters, yet Deloney portrays them as members of a "virtuous proletariat, " content with their lot in life.]


In the voluminous pamphlet literature of the sixteenth century, expressions of professional jealousy are relatively common. It is not surprising, therefore, that the activities of a...

(The entire section is 6498 words.)

Merritt E. Lawlis (essay date 1961)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: Introduction to The Novels of Thomas Deloney, Indiana University Press, 1961, pp. xi–xxiii.

[In the following excerpt, Lawlis emphasizes some distinctive and innovative qualities of Deloney's novels: the dramatic presentation of scenes, the idiomatic dialogue, and the abundance of colorful characters.]

1. Deloney as Novelist: His Use of the Drama and the Jestbook

By the time Thomas Deloney in the last few years of the sixteenth century turned to what we now call the novel form, he knew what his public wanted. All four of his novels immediately became so popular that the early editions of them were read completely out of existence. To...

(The entire section is 5142 words.)

Walter R. Davis (essay date 1969)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Thomas Deloney and Middle-Class Fiction," in Idea and Act in Elizabethan Fiction, Princeton University Press, 1969, pp. 238–80.

[In the excerpt below, Davis provides a detailed analysis of each of Deloney's novels. The critic discusses Deloney's adaptation of his sources; his structural methods; his idealized heroes; and significant differences between Thomas of Reading and Deloney's other prose fiction.]

The only point of positive contact between the university wit Thomas Nashe and the silk-weaver turned balladeer whom he scorned is their common reliance, probably through the influence of Greene, on material from the sixteenth-century jest...

(The entire section is 10947 words.)

Max Dorsinville (essay date 1973)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Design in Deloney's Jack of Newbury," in PMLA, Vol. 88, No. 2, March, 1973, pp. 233–39.

(The entire section is 5577 words.)

Laura S. O'Connell (essay date 1976)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Anti-Entrepreneurial Attitudes in Elizabethan Sermons and Popular Literature," in The Journal of British Studies, Vol. XV, No. 2, Spring, 1976, pp. 1–20.

[In the following excerpt, O'Connell discusses the relation between religion and capitalism in Deloney's novels. She contends that Deloney believed women are covetous by nature, and thus thought it was appropriate for them to pursue the accumulation of wealth while their husbands devoted themselves to piety and good works.]

It has been nearly half a century since R. H. Tawney published Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, and in spite of many efforts to refine and to dispute Tawney's thesis, the work...

(The entire section is 4324 words.)

Constance Jordan (essay date 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The 'Art of Clothing': Role-Playing in Deloney's Fiction," in English Literary Renaissance, Vol. II, No. 2, Spring, 1981, pp. 183–93.

[In the essay reprinted below, Jordan focuses on role-playing figures in Deloney's novels. She points out that Jack of Newbury's role-playing is constructive because it allows him to distinguish between his desires and objective reality: by contrast, the role-players in Thomas of Reading are either forced into pretense or choose it as a means of deceiving others.]

Although they were published within a brief three-year period from 1597 to 1600, Thomas Deloney's three novels, Jacke of Newburie, The Gentle Craft I and...

(The entire section is 4920 words.)

Leonard Mustazza (essay date 1989)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "Thomas Deloney's Jacke of Newbury: A Horatio Alger Story for the Sixteenth Century," in Journal of Popular Culture, Vol. 23, No. 3, Winter, 1989, pp. 165–77.

[In the essay below, the critic examines what he sees as Deloney's ironic treatment of Jack of Newbury 's rags-to-riches story. Mustazza argues that Jack's careful attention to his own best interests and his ability to manipulate others are just as significant as his altruism and class consciousness.]

Louis B. Wright begins his book Middle-Class Culture in Elizabethan England with this observation:

In the furtherance of his social ambitions, the...

(The entire section is 6247 words.)

Theo Stemmler (essay date 1992)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "The Rise of a New Literary Genre: Thomas Deloney's Bourgeois Novel Jack of Newbury," in Telling Stories: Studies in Honour of Ulrich Broich on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday, edited by Elmar Leh-mann and Bernd Lenz, B. R. Grüner, 1992, pp. 47–55.

[In the following essay, Stemmler evaluates the historical frameworks and factual details in Deloney's novels. These elements, the critic argues, enhanced the stature of Deloney's bourgeois heroes and provided his middle-class readers with exemplary figures from their own sector of Elizabethan society.]

After a long time of scholarly neglect Thomas Deloney's important contribution to the English novel has...

(The entire section is 2871 words.)

Evelyn B. Tribble (essay date 1995)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: "'We Will Do No Harm with Our Sword': Royal Representation, Civic Pageantry, and the Displacement of Popular Protest in Thomas Deloney's Jacke of Newberie," in Place and Displacement in the Renaissance, edited by Alvin Vos, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1995, pp. 147–57.

[In this essay, Tribble discusses Jack of Newbury's encounter with Henry VIII in terms of Elizabethan civic pageantry. She suggests that through the ant-king episode and the presentation of the golden beehive, Jack implicitly raises the threat of social disorder if the monarch fails to support the clothing industry.]

In 1596 The lord mayor of London wrote to William...

(The entire section is 3973 words.)