Thomas Dekker, Lantern and Candlelight

Edited with introduction and annotations by Viviana Comensoli - BR18

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Thomas Dekker was among the most prolific and talented of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. He authored approximately seventeen plays and collaborated on more than fifty others with many of the leading dramatists of the age, including John Webster, Thomas Middleton, Henry Chettle, and John Ford. Dekker was also one of early modern England’s finest and best-known pamphleteers. Lantern and Candlelight belongs to the genre variously known as the rogue book, beggar book, or cony-catching pamphlet, which developed in England in the mid-16th century and was popular with a wide spectrum of audiences until the 18th century. The genre’s counterparts today are fiction and films showcasing underworld characters and their secret language, codes, and practices. Lantern and Candlelight was among the most popular rogue books of its time, going through more editions than any of its analogues. The present text is the first complete modernized edition of the pamphlet’s first edition (1608). The Introduction situates the text within its literary and social contexts, and illustrates Dekker’s unique contributions to early modern print culture.

Viviana Comensoli is professor of English in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. She has published widely on Renaissance literature.

255 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-2037-5 softcover
Published: 2007



Life and Career of Thomas Dekker
Early Life
Dekker and the Commercial Theatre
Dekker's Pamphleteering and Early Modern Print
Imprisonment and Final Years
Critical Response to Dekker's Work
Genre: Rogue Book / Cony-Catching Pamphlet
Text and Date
Structure and Plot
Style and Narrative Technique
Cant: the Rogue Language
Gender and Genre
Roguery and Theatre
The Open Ending
Editorial Procedures

Lantern and Candlelight (1608)

Textual Variants


O per se O (1612)
Notes to the Appendix