The Works of Thomas Deloney

The Works of Thomas Deloney

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The Works of Thomas Deloney

The Works of Thomas Deloney

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Excerpt

The recorded facts of Deloney's life are very scanty. His earliest venture appears to have been A Declaration made by the Archbishop of Cullen uzpon the Deede of his Mariage (1583), and Kempe in April, 1600, refers to him as having just died. Thus his working literary life lasted about seventeen years, but it is impossible to give even a rough guess at the date of his birth, although Ebbsworth suggests (apparently capriciously) 1543. He appears to have drifted into literature from the more substantial occupation of silk-weaving, and his novels show the most intimate acquaintance with London life, but Nash's epithet 'the Balletting Silke Weauer of Norwich" seems to point to that town as the place of his birth, and it is significant that one of his earliest ballads -- The Lamentation of Beckles (1586) -- was printed 'for Nicholas Coleman of Norwich'. His name may indicate French ancestry, and this, combined with his strong Anti-Catholicism, perhaps points to descent from a Protestant silk-weaving family, one of those which took refuge in East Anglia from Continental religious persecution. From the earliest times Norwich had been colonized by Flemish and Walloon refugees, and in 1571 there were 3,925 aliens dwelling within the city. The number of silk workers (Deloney's own craft) seems to have increased considerably during the latter half of the sixteenth century. 'Among the trading Strangers', writes Strype, 'that came over into England from Flanders and those Parts for their Religion, in the said Queen Elizabeths Reign, there were divers of this Sort that dealt in dressing and preparing Silk for the other trades'; and it may be remembered that alien artisans figure very prominently in Deloney's novels.

Of his earlier life and education nothing is known, but his translation of the proclamation and letters in the Cologne tract . . .

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