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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

§ 24. Jack of Newbury

The second novel, Jack of Newbury, perpetuates the fame of a wealthy Berkshire weaver, one John Winchcomb (1470–1514), and, at the same time, it commemorates the ancient glories of the company of weavers. The hero is an affable apprentice, who is wooed and won by his master’s widow, and, thereby, is raised to affluent circumstances. Subsequently, he confounds his betters by his patriotism and philanthropy, entertains Henry VIII in his Newbury establishment and helps his fellow-weavers in Wolsey’s despite. There is, in addition, the usual digression and comic interlude. The widow’s wooing, the hero’s fifteen pictures with their didactic intention, and the practical jokes played upon a jester and an Italian, are all characteristic of Deloney’s vein of humour. The work is amusing, in spite of its crudity, while it also lights up the humbler but respectable spheres of Elizabethan life.