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Home > English home > Information for current students > Undergraduate > EN2010 Love, Honour, Obey: Literature 1525-1670
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EN2010 Love, Honour, Obey: Literature 1525-1670

Summer Reading List 2016-17

Course Tutor: Roy Booth

Suggestions for Summer Reading

This is not a course full of fat novels that you have to read in advance. As the teaching is spread over two terms, you have plenty of chance to read the poems and plays alongside the teaching.

However, two things are good to do in advance: read up on your 16th and 17th century English history, and try to sample some of the texts, especially Paradise Lost, the single most important work here. If you haven’t studied it before, it’s time for you to get acquainted with Satan all on your own.


If you covered this period of English history in a History A-level, you are going to find that helpful. But everyone might like to get their bearings by looking at the background works below (get them from a local library):

  • Briggs, Julia, This Stage-Play World: Texts and Contexts, 1580-1625, 2nd edn (Oxford Paperbacks, 1997).
  • Michael Hattaway, Renaissance and Reformations: An Introduction to Early Modern English Literature (Blackwell Introductions to Literature, 2009).
  • Hebron, Malcolm, Key Concepts in Renaissance Literature (Palgrave Key Concepts: Literature, 2008).
  • Kenyon, J. P., The Stuarts: A Study in English Kingship, New Ed (Fontana Press, 1972).
  • OR - Kenyon, J.P., Stuart England, 2nd edn (Penguin Books Ltd, 1985). Somerset, Anne, Elizabeth I, New Ed (Phoenix, 2002).
  • Kinney, Arthur F., The Cambridge Companion to English Literature, 1500-1600 (Cambridge Companions to Literature, 1999). Note that the Cambridge Companions are all available as an e-resource via the RHUL library databases.

Primary Texts

To get some familiarity with the writers covered in the course, you could read the selections of Donne, Herbert, and Marvell in your Norton Anthologies of English Poetry. You could also read Venus and Adonis in your Norton Shakespeare, and Marlowe’s Hero and Leander in the Norton Poetry anthology. 

Better still, you could look out for The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The Sixteenth Century/Early Seventeenth Century Volume B, Ninth Edition (2012). This contains Dr Faustus, lots of Donne and Herbert, the whole of Paradise Lost, Webster's The Duchess of Malfi, a collection of relevant shorter pieces which the editors call 'Renaissance Love and Desire', and abundant selections of women writers from the period.

Purchase of the text (new, rather than second hand) also gives you access to a Study Space site and a supplemental Ebook. This includes many more texts: Milton's 'Comus' is there, for instance. Note that this edition - and its online supplement - will remain thin on drama, and you would have to buy texts by Middleton, and Kyd.

Second hand copies of this good anthology start from a ridiculous £1.38, but if you want the e-supplements, you probably have to go new and full price.

Routledge have a collection of plays from the period, The Routledge Anthology of Renaissance Drama.

Here are other editions which you certainly could use, and which should be cheaply available via Amazon, Abebooks or www.bookstore.co.uk.

  • Donne, John, The Collected Poems of John Donne, New edition (Wordsworth Editions Ltd, 1994). £3.99, and cheaper second hand!
  • Herbert, George, The Complete English Poems, New Ed (Penguin Classics, 2004). From £5.39 new, plus postage.
  • Marlowe, Christopher, The Complete Plays in the Penguin edition. Better, but a text that still seems to be out of print, but abundantly available second hand, Doctor Faustus and Other Plays: Tamburlaine, Parts I and II; Doctor Faustus, A- and B-Texts; The Jew of Malta; Edward II (Oxford Paperbacks, 2008).
  • Middleton, Thomas, Five Plays: A Trick to Catch the Old One; The Revenger's Tragedy; A Chaste Maid in Cheapside; Women Beware Women; The Changeling (Penguin) - Middleton does not feature in the Norton Anthology cited above.
  • Milton, John, John Leonard’s Penguin text of Paradise Lost can be recommended. The annotation is fresh and interesting. There is also The Major Works (Oxford Worlds Classics) ed. Orgel and Goldberg. Gordon Campbell’s Everyman works of Milton seems to be unavailable (inexplicable: these publishers!). Buy it if you see it second hand. 'The Dartmouth ‘Milton Reading Room’ is also good: https://www.dartmouth.edu/~milton/reading_room/contents/text.shtml
  • Spenser, Edmund: our advice would be to wait for the course starting. The Luminarium website links to a plain text: http://www.luminarium.org/renascence-editions/queene3.html
  • The Penguin full text, eds. Roche and O’Donnell costs about £10. It’s an intimidating object, quite useful for impressing people with how studious you are…

And you are studious: and that is why you will never, ever go near anything like Spark Notes, Schmoop, Enotes. No credit at all in doing that, but the chance of maximum discredit.


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