Jack of Newbury is an incisive yet remarkably entertaining work of narrative prose—and one that was extremely popular when it was published in the 1590s. The title character, an apprentice weaver, marries his former master’s wife, expands her cloth business into an enormous enterprise, refuses Henry VIII’s offer of a knighthood, and confronts Cardinal Wolsey; meanwhile, his servants find themselves in a range of comic situations. While amusing, Jack of Newbury also carries a serious and subversive political message: as Peter C. Herman puts it in his introduction to the volume, “the truly valuable subjects” in Deloney’s narrative “are not the nobility, but the merchant class.” The range of contextual materials included with this edition help to set it in the broader context of its economic and political as well as literary culture.
“This is an excellent and approachable teaching edition of an important text. Deloney’s Jack of Newbury is significant both as a fine example of a popular sixteenth-century prose narrative, and as an early example of literature created by and for the middling sort rather than social elites. Herman’s edition brilliantly contextualizes Deloney’s text in relation to social and economic conflicts in late sixteenth-century England. The supporting texts are excellently chosen, and provide useful insights into early modern English notions of class, hierarchy, obedience, rebellion, and patriotism.” — Ian Moulton, Arizona State University
“Expertly introduced and judiciously annotated by Peter Herman, this modernized Jack of Newbury will engage readers with what Herman excitingly calls ‘an alternative history of England.’ The well-chosen supplementary texts further this project in ways useful to scholars and accessible to undergraduates.” — Heidi Brayman Hackel, University of California, Riverside
“Peter Herman’s detailed and highly readable introduction and thoughtful footnotes render this compelling example of Elizabethan prose fiction invaluable to scholars and students alike, while additional materials provide a useful socioeconomic and political context. This is a much-needed, accessible, student-friendly edition of Deloney’s finest work.” — Scott Oldenburg, Tulane University
“Peter C. Herman’s introduction to this comprehensive new edition of Jack of Newbury offers an insight into the context of historiography in which Deloney was writing, marking him out from the tradition of English chroniclers in their focus on the aristocratic classes. Herman shows how Deloney’s work filled the gap created by early modern history writing, where ‘ordinary people’ were often excised from narratives—and thus from history itself … as well as showing how Deloney’s tale departs from English historiographers, Herman demonstrates how Jack of Newbury subverts ideas of the status quo prevalent in wider English culture … Herman also provides an illuminated assessment of Deloney’s contribution to English ballad culture, and in particular his Strange Histories, a collection which evinces Deloney’s interest in the blending of fiction and history. Yet Herman also prints a ballad of Deloney’s that celebrates the defeat of the Spanish Armada. This is an edition that explores Deloney’s fascination with the historical and suggests his writings’ relevance to the politics of his time.” — The Times Literary Supplement
“Peter Herman’s excellent edition of Jack of Newbury brings together a lucid, readable edition of the text with several intriguing pieces of contextual material and an introduction that outlines the stakes of encountering Deloney in one of these courses … Some students are sure to be intrigued by the excellent work Herman has done to put Jack of Newbury in context …. Peter Herman and Broadview have done teachers of Elizabethan culture and fiction a great service by making this important text available in this convenient and accessible classroom edition. It is sure to find a wide audience.” — Andrew Fleck, Renaissance Quarterley