Henry Chettle, Kind-Heart’s Dream and Piers Plainness: Two Pamphlets from the Elizabethan Book Trade

Edited by Donald A. Beecher and Grant Williams - TS07

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In these two little-known pamphlets, published here for the first time together, you will find rollicking storytelling: Kind Heart’s Dream brings to life the dog-eat-dog world of the London marketplace, while Piers Plainness recounts the trials of an apprentice who tries to survive corrupt masters during the fallout of a political coup. Despite their different settings and plots, these tales not only cast light upon Elizabethan pamphlet production and print culture, but also give voice to the underrepresented precariat—indentured servants, itinerant labourers, and confidence men—to which Chettle belonged in his capacity as a printing-house factotum, author-for-hire, and notorious forger.

Edited, with Introduction and annotations, by Donald A. Beecher and Grant Williams

Donald Beecher is Chancellor’s Professor of English at Carleton University and a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His publishing ranges from translations of French, Italian, and Spanish plays to early literature and the cognitive sciences. Included are several editions of early English prose fiction, as well as work on lovesickness, sex changes, pharmacology, nostalgia, suspense, the inquisition, fairy- and folk-tales, and early music. Currently, he is writing on Milton’s Paradise Lost.

Grant Williams is an Associate Professor of English at Carleton University. He researches rhetoric, psychology, and interiority in early modern English literature and culture. With William E. Engel and Rory Loughnane, he has coauthored The Memory Arts in Renaissance England: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge University Press, 2016) and The Death Arts in Renaissance England: A Critical Anthology (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming).

234 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-7727-7350-0 softcover
Published: 2022


“Scholars doing serious work on the pamphlet and literary culture of early modern England will find this edition of Chettle’s work very valuable.” — Constance C. RelihanDean and Professor of English, University College, Virginia Commonwealth University

“This edition makes two of Henry Chettle’s pamphlets approachable for both experts and novices in book history. It presents Chettle as a checkered but sympathetic figure who will allow advanced undergrads, grad students, and faculty to put a human face on the book trade. Chettle emerges as a more interesting writer, and fiction as a more self-reflexive genre, than we have seen before. Finally, the volume also gently and wittily contributes to a less Shakespeare-centric view of early modern literature as a field of production.” — Lori Humphrey NewcombUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Chettle in Literary Criticism and Book History
Chettle and Pamphlet Culture
Working as and for a Struggling Printer
Pamphlet Production
Marketable Genres from Greene to Marprelate
Marketing Greene’s Successor
The University Wits and the Emergent Professional Author
Chettle’s Identification as a Tradesman
Labouring Narrations
The Narrators and their Frame Stories
Manufacturing Credit in the Labour Market
Fantasies of the Honest Broker


Textual Analysis and Editorial Procedures

Kind-Heart’s Dream
Textual Annotations

Piers Plainness’s Seven-Years Prenticeship
Textual Annotations

Appendix A: Glossary
Appendix B: Timeline
Appendix C: Ornaments