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Poets and Power from Chaucer to Wyatt


  • Page extent: 316 pages
  • Size: 229 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.47 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521117067)

In the early fifteenth century, English poets responded to a changed climate of patronage, instituted by Henry IV and successor monarchs, by inventing a new tradition of public and elite poetry. Following Chaucer and others, Hoccleve and Lydgate brought to English verse a style and subject matter writing about their King, nation, and themselves, and their innovations influenced a continuous line of poets running through and beyond Wyatt. A crucial aspect of this tradition is its development of ideas and practices associated with the role of poet laureate. Robert J. Meyer-Lee examines the nature and significance of this tradition as it developed from the fourteenth century to Tudor times, tracing its evolution from one author to the next. This study illuminates the relationships between poets and political power and makes plain the tremendous impact this verse has had on the shape of English literary culture.

• Major insights on Wyatt, Hoccleve, Skelton and Lydgate • An important study of the relatively neglected fifteenth century • Provides an essential background for the study of Chaucer as a public poet


Acknowledgements; Notes on citations; Introduction: laureates and beggars; Part I. Backgrounds: 1. Laureate poetics; Part II. The First Lancastrian Poets: 2. John Lydgate: the invention of the English laureate; 3. Thomas Hoccleve: beggar laureate; Part III. From Lancaster to Early Tudor: 4. Lydgateanism; 5. The trace of Lydgate: Stephen Hawes, Alexander Barclay, and John Skelton; Epilogue: Sir Thomas Wyatt: anti-laureate; Notes; Works cited; Index.


'Well written and consistently argued, it is literary history of the first order.' The Medieval Review

'Robert J. Meyer-Lee's book is a useful survey of English poetry from Hoccleve to Skelton, with Chaucer and Wyatt as bookends. … It would serve as a useful initiation for students to some meta-literary topics and to much fifteenth-century literature.' Daniel Wakelin, Lecturer in English and a Fellow in English at Christ's College, Cambridge

'Meyer-Lee's reinvestment in the idea of literary tradition gives him a strong story to tell, and he tells it crisply and effectively in this admirable study.' Notes and Queries

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