This volume gives attention to a popular literary phenomenon that defies modern conventional understandings of literary culture. Claiming to educate young gentlemen in the social arts, miscellanies were booklets that circulated widely in early modern England. They bundled together writing from diverse sources - plat texts, song books, educational tracts, poetry collections - but rarely acknowledged authorship. The material, which was frequently altered from the original, was of a Royalist bent and often celebrated drinking and carousing. reading could learn about courtship, however, through poetry, word games, sample love letters and even romantic one-liners. Who produced and who actually read miscellanies are among many questions explored in this in-depth study. Rejecting traditional authorcentric approaches, Adam Smyth instead draws upon research into the early modern cultures of manuscript and print. He begins with a consideration of the literary traditions from which printed miscellanies emerged and the functions the booklets proposed to serve.
Through his analysis of marginalia in extant copies of these booklets Smyth constructs a profile of miscellany readers and shows how their readings often differed from those prescribed by the texts. Smyth also addresses textual transmission, emphasizing the fluidity of the publication process. Finally, the author examines the politics of printed miscellanies.