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


<PARA=”1″>THE THREE volumes of The Cambridge History of English Literature which are to follow the present will consist of two concerned with the history of dramatic writing in England to the middle, or thereabouts, of the seventeenth century, preceded by one dealing with poetry and prose other than dramatic to the end, approximately, of the first quarter of the seventeenth century. We find that it will be more convenient to publish the volume concerned with Elizabethan and Jacobean prose and poetry from Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton so soon as may be after that now issued, with which it immediately associates itself, rather than to defer it until after the issue of the two drama volumes. These last, in a sense, will be complete in themselves, and we hope to publish them without loss of time.<PARA=”2″>We have not cared to draw a hard and fast line between the contents of Volumes III and IV; the two should be taken together as covering the sixteenth century and the early decades of the seventeenth, apart from the drama.<PARA=”3″>The process of compression has had to be applied more severely than we might have wished; but, in accordance with the intentions expressed in the preface to Volume I, we have not scrupled to devote less space to well known writers, in order to treat at greater length subjects concerning which difficulty may be experienced in obtaining assistance elsewhere; neither have we hesitated to limit the space devoted to generalisation rather than restrict unduly that required for bibliographies.<PARA=”4″>We cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of acknowledging the continued assistance received from scholars engaged in the teaching of English literature at home and abroad, on both sides of the Atlantic. And especially welcome has been the evidence of their kindly-expressed appreciation of our aims offered by several distinguished continental scholars—by Dr. Richard Wülker of Leipzig, himself eminent alike as a historian of English literature and as a professor of the subject, whose criticisms thus possess a twofold value; by Dr. Cino Chiarini of Florence, to the continuation of whose most welcome articles in La Cultura we are looking forward; by Professor Albert Feuillerat of Rennes, a literary critic of high reputation on both sides of the Channel, in the Revue de l’Enseignement des Langues Vivantes and elsewhere; and by others. The effective support given us in our endeavours to provide a history for both the general reader and the student by the combination of a text abstaining as much as possible from technicalities, with bibliographies as full as possible of matter, has been a source of great encouragement to us in carrying on our task. We are convinced that it is the duty of a university press to endeavour both to meet the highest demands that can be made upon its productions by men of learning and letters, and to enable the many to share in the knowledge acquired by the few.<PARA=”5″>It may interest our readers to know that, by permission of the Syndics of the Press, copies of Professor Manly’s chapter on Piers the Plowman, in our second volume, have been circulated among its members by the Early English Text Society—the body of scholars best qualified to estimate the importance of this contribution. The offprint is accompanied by a few pages of pregnant “forewords” from the pen of the veteran founder and director of the Society, and by the article on the same subject contributed to Modern Philology in January, 1906, and Dr. Henry Bradley’s letter in The Athenæum of 21 April, 1906.
A. W. W. A. R. W.
CAMBRIDGE 28 December, 1908.