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Jack of Newbury

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;…

Le Morte Darthur: Selections

Arguably no medieval English literary work has had as far and wide a reach as Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur; among the many adaptations are Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, and the Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot. It might also be argued that the late twentieth- and…

Miracles of the Virgin in Middle English

During the Middle Ages, Mary was the most powerful of saints, and the combination of her humanity and her proximity to the divine captured the medieval imagination. Her importance is nowhere more clearly reflected than in the genre of “Miracles of the Virgin,” short narrative accounts of Mary’s miraculous intercessory powers. These stories tend to…

The Siege of Jerusalem

The Siege of Jerusalem (c. 1370-90 CE) is a difficult text. By twenty-first-century standards, it is gruesomely violent and offensive. It tells the story of the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, an event viewed by its author (as by many in the Middle Ages) as divine retribution against Jews…

The Dead and Other Stories

That James Joyce’s “The Dead” forms an extraordinary conclusion to his collection Dubliners, there can be no doubt. But as many have pointed out, “The Dead” may equally well be read as a novella—arguably, one of the finest novellas ever written. “The Dead,” a “story of public life,” as Joyce categorized it, was written more…

King Lear

The text of the play included here, prepared by Craig Walker for The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, has been acclaimed for its outstanding introductory material and annotations, and for its inclusion of parellel text versions of key scenes for which the texts of the Quarto and the Folio versions of the play are substantially…

Lady Audley’s Secret – A Drama in Two Acts

Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s shocking and suspenseful novel Lady Audley’s Secret was one of the most popular examples of the “sensation fiction” craze of the 1860s. Within a year of the novel appearing in book form, no less than three theatrical adaptations appeared on the London stage. Braddon took strong issue with two of these, but…

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice is best known for its complex and ambiguous portrait of the Jewish moneylender Shylock—and of European anti-Semitism. Fascinating in its engagement with prejudice, the play is also a comedy of cross-dressing and disguise, and a dramatic exploration of justice, mercy, and vengeance. This volume contains the full text of the play…

Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Selected Poetry

A century ago Tennyson had begun to be dismissed as a poet whose work embodied everything the modern world was looking to leave behind. He still seems to readers to embody the substance of the Victorian era more fully than any other poet—but nowadays that is counted in his favor. Critics continue to find layers…

The Octoroon

Regarded by Bernard Shaw as a master of the theatre, Dion Boucicault was arguably the most important figure in drama in North America and in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was largely forgotten during the twentieth century—though he continued to influence popular culture (the iconic image of a woman tied…

Old English Poetry: An Anthology

R.M. Liuzza’s Broadview edition of Beowulf was published at almost exactly the same time as Seamus Heaney’s; in reviewing the two together in July 2000 for The New York Review of Books, Frank Kermode concluded that both translations were superior to their predecessors, and that it was impossible to choose between the two: “the less…

Samson Agonistes and Other Poems

In Samson Agonistes, Milton’s last great work, he addresses questions that pressed insistently on the imagination of all who were unhappy with the changes wrought by the Restoration. How do we respond to the experience of defeat, and to fears of having been abandoned by the divine? How do we know when our actions accord…