A Hundred Merry Tales: The Shakespeare Jest Book (Paperback)
Rastell's A Hundred Merry Tales was the first English jest book, and would set a pattern for succeeding generations, who came to see it as a window on a lost 'Merry England.'
Originally published in 1524-5, this charming collection of amusing (sometimes scurrilous) anecdotes was celebrated by contemporaries among the defining books of the Tudor era, and is even name-checked by Shakespeare.
This new edition of A Hundred Merry Tales presents these comic stories in modern spelling with comprehensive notes. It is the first edition to draw on all four available source editions, and the first to bring together all 103 tales published under this title by John Rastell, including rediscovered 'lost' passages.
Although authorship of A Hundred Merry Tales has been contested in the past, the present editor carefully considers this question, drawing the conclusion that 'it makes sense for us now to recognise John Rastell as effective author of the body of tales as a whole.'