Thomas Nashe

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Nashe, Thomas

Nashe or Nash, Thomas (both: năsh), 1567–1601, English satirist. Very little is known of his life. Although his first publications appeared in 1589, it was not until Pierce Penniless His Supplication to the Devil (1592), a bitter satire on contemporary society, that his natural and vigorous style was fully developed. His ardent anti-Puritanism involved him in the Martin Marprelate controversy, resulting in a scurrilous pamphlet battle with Richard and Gabriel Harvey in which Nashe produced some of his liveliest writing. The Unfortunate Traveler (1594), his best-known work, was a forerunner of the picaresque novel of adventure. His plays include a satirical masque, Summer's Last Will and Testament (1592); and a lost comedy written with Ben Jonson, The Isle of Dogs (1597), which caused the imprisonment of several persons, including Jonson himself, for “seditious and slanderous” language.


See his works edited by R. B. McKerrow (5 vol., 1904–10); selected writings ed. by S. Wells (1964); studies by G. R. Hibbard (1962), S. S. Hilliard (1986), and L. Hutson (1989).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nashe, Thomas


(also Thomas Nash). Born 1567 in Lowestoft, Suffolk; died circa 1601 in Yarmouth, Norfolk. English author.

The son of a priest, Nashe graduated from Cambridge University in 1586. Nashe’s satires, including The Anatomie of Absurditie (1589) and Pierce Penilesse, His Supplication to the Divell (1592), are written in a Rabelaisian style. His satirical talent was probably best manifested in the play The Isle of Dogs (staged 1597), for which he was imprisoned. In his only extant comedy, Summers’ Last Will and Testament (published 1600), satire is muffled by elements of the morality play.

Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller, or The Life of Jacke Wilton (1594) is the first picaresque novel in the English language. The author vividly describes the life and mores of various countries and introduces a number of historical personages, including the poet and aristocrat H. Howard (Earl of Surrey), T. More, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and Luther.


The Works, vols. 1–5. London, 1966.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, fasc. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1943. Pages 359–61.
Hibbard, G. R. Thomas Nashe. London, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nashe, Thomas 1964 Pierce Penniless his supplication to the devil.
Chief among them was Christopher Marlowe; others were Robert Greene, John Lyly, Thomas Nashe, Thomas Lodge, and George Peele.