Chapbooks formed the staple reading matter of ordinary people during the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth centuries; they were also read by children of the gentry. They included fiction, almanacs, religious guidance and radical political tracts, and were available throughout the British Isles and in colonial America. The chapbook romances included in this volume derive from tales of chivalric adventure and courtly love current in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance. They have features in common with similar texts which were available all over Europe. The six chapbooks in this volume all derive from romances which were current in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, and provide a fascinating window on the mental world of rural England and America before the advent of mass media. No previous attempt has been made to produce the full text of a selection of chapbooks for the modern reader; they have remained the province of specialist bibliographers and antiquarians.
John Simons is Head of the School of Humanities and Arts, Edge Hill College of Higher Education.