The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume II. The End of the Middle Ages.


<PARA=”1″>THE EDITORS of The Cambridge History of English Literature are glad to find by the welcome extended to their first volume that the work apparently goes some way towards meeting the needs of those for whose use it was undertaken. They are very sensible of the kindness of those critics who have pointed out where it was thought that improvements could be made; and, in several cases, they have been able to avail themselves of these suggestions. The editors are especially pleased to find that the purpose of the short editorial sections included in the text has been generally understood, and that the notes attached to the bibliographies have been found to be useful.<PARA=”2″>Pressure of material, and the desire to consult the convenience of students, have prevented the editors from dealing in the present volume with the beginnings of the English drama. The chapters concerned with the early religious plays have been transferred to the earlier of the two volumes which will deal consecutively with the general history of the English drama from its beginnings to the closing of the theatres under the Puritan règime. It is not necessary to remind the student that, in any collective estimate of the English literature of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, with which the present volume is chiefly concerned, the miracle plays must be regarded as of the greatest importance.<PARA=”3″>The third volume, Renascence and Reformation, is in the press. It deals with Erasmus and More, Barclay and Skelton, Lindsay and Knox; with the poetry (other than dramatic) as well as the prose of the earlier Tudor age; and it contains chapters, in sequence to those in Volume I, concerning changes in language and prosody to the days of Elizabeth. The editors hope that it may be in their power to publish this third volume before the close of the present year; should they find it impossible to accomplish this task, they desire that the blame may be imputed not to the contributing authors, whose aid throughout has been generous and ungrudging, but to editorial difficulties, into the details of which it would be wearisome to enter here.
A. W. W. A. R. W.
CAMBRIDGE 20 March, 1908