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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume III. Renascence and Reformation.

XVI. Elizabethan Prose Fiction

§ 23. Thomas of Reading

Thomas of Reading is written to the honour and glory of the clothiers’ craft; it is designed to portray their honourable estate under Henry I (thanks to a hint supplied by William of Malmesbury), and this it does by relating certain incidents in the lives of six master-clothiers of the west country, whose wealth is represented by long lines of waggons creaking their way to London, their importance by the ceremony paid them by royalty. To these main incidents is added much humorous and descriptive matter, as well as a somewhat tragic love-story, concerning duke Robert. There is no attempt at historical verisimilitude, for, in describing Thomas and his fellows, the novelist is obviously sketching Elizabethans. The humour, which is plentiful, arises out of a clever reproduction of inn scenes and gossiping wives, but the love passages are somewhat ineffective, being conducted on lines which are strictly Euphuistic.