Authorship, Publication, Reception (1): 1470-1660 Chapter uri icon

Book Title

  • Prose Fiction in English from the Origins of Print to 1750


  • This chapter charts the nature of prose fiction from the beginning of printing to the start of the Restoration period. The development, diversity, and increasing popularity of prose fiction from this era are an extraordinary literary phenomenon. Prose romance circulated from the 1470s through the sixteenth century in both print and manuscript, and formed the cornerstone of prose narrative during the late fifteenth through to the mid-sixteenth centuries. While it is impossible to find a great deal of hard evidence about the early readership for these works, their proliferation and their variety suggest readers from a quite broad spectrum of society, although a truly ‘popular’ readership was only established later in the sixteenth century. Along with these long-lived survivors from earlier centuries, by the sixteenth century prose romance in England was dominated by the translations (and originals) of the Continental chivalric romance, most notably the Amadis de Gaule series.

publication date

  • 2017