This document is copyright (c) 1995, 1996 by Romuald Ian Lakowski, all rights reserved. All sections of Interactive EMLS (iEMLS) and iEMLS as a whole are copyright (c) 1995, 1996 by Early Modern Literary Studies, all rights reserved, and may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law. Archiving and redistribution for profit, or republication of this text in any medium, requires the consent of the copyright holder and the Editor of EMLS.

1. A Man for All Seasons

Note: This text is an almost exact copy of the Introduction and First Chapter, "A Man for All Seasons" from my English Ph.D. dissertation,

The pagination of the original thesis is given in {} brackets, e.g. {5}, but for convenience paragraph numbers have also been added.

Any comments or queries can be sent to the author at

Romuald (Ronnie) Ian Lakowski

Table of Contents

Introduction to Thesis

1. A Man for All Seasons


Return to Thesis Table of Contents


1. {1} Despite the monumental labours of the editors of the Yale Edition of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More,[1] very little work has yet been done on analysing the structure of Thomas More's major writings. The study I present here is a contribution towards rectifying this unjust neglect. Though much has been written about St. Thomas More, an analysis of the secondary bibliography in the Bibliographical Appendix indicates clearly that the only work of More's that has been extensively analysed is his Utopia, and that even here almost all the articles on Utopia focus exclusively on the famous account of the imaginary island of Utopia in Book II. While much has been written on More's life and famous martyrdom, very little scholarly attention has yet been paid to analysing any of his literary works, apart from Utopia.

2. At least part of the reason for this past neglect is the lack of good modern critical editions of More's works. This situation has been largely rectified by the now almost complete critical edition of More's works being published by Yale University Press. Despite the very extensive textual apparatus to the editions of the various works supplied by the Yale editors, there is little in the way of actual "explication de texte" provided in the editorial apparatus. The time is now ripe for a new generation of textual scholars, building on the achievements of the Yale edition, to provide such an in depth analysis.

3. For all the scholarly work that has been done on More in recent years, St. Thomas More in many ways still remains an extremely enigmatic and elusive author for most of his modern readers. It is this enigma that I wish to address in this study. I think that this elusiveness is hardly an accident. For the 'Man For All Seasons' was also a man of many masks and many voices with an uncanny ability at improvising and acting out a large number of different roles in the course of his long and varied life. In this study, I will be analysing four of Thomas More's most important literary works, his History of Richard III, {2} Book I of his Utopia, and the two English dialogues: the Dialogue Concerning Heresies and the Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation.

4. In the case of More's "semi-dialogue" the Utopia, I have deliberately omitted all discussion of Book II, mainly because the dialogue in Utopia occurs only in Book I. In the case of Richard III, I have concentrated on the passages of direct and indirect discourse in the History, trying to show in my analysis the dialectical movement from speaker to speaker in the text, or what Clarence Miller calls "the ironical cross-lights of Richard III,"[2] which he compares to the give-and-take of the formal dialogues. In the case of the two major English dialogues, where the dialogue is sustained throughout the works---in one case over three hundred pages, and in the other over four hundred pages, I have provided in each case a basic analysis of the whole work in question.

5. With the dialogues under consideration here, I think it is fair to say that the "art of dialogue" in England reached a height that it had never reached before and has never attained since. Each of the four works under consideration is in its own way unique.

6. My study consists of a basic structural analysis of the four works under consideration, together with an opening chapter, which is designed to frame my discussion of these works in a manner which I hope is in some small way analogous to the parerga or introductory frames of the works themselves. In an appendix, I have also added a major bibliography of More scholarship, containing about two thousand items, organised according to topics, e.g., studies of individual works, biographical topics, etc.

7. The basic thesis of this study is that Thomas More was a superb literary artist and a master of the art of literary dialogue, and that beneath the often seemingly rambling, digressive, and apparently incoherent and chaotic surface of each of the four literary works under consideration in this study, there is a 'deep structure' that is highly coherent and even tightly organised. The purpose of this study is to describe and show empirically this deep {3} structure, both on a macroscopic level (the 'top-down' approach) in the body of the thesis, and on the level of microstructure (the 'bottom-up' approach) in the tables and figures provided for each of the four works under discussion. The one hundred and fifty page bibliography in the Bibliographical Appendix is provided as a tool for scholars, but it too is a part of my argument. Even a casual perusal of the contents of the bibliography indicates just how onesided past More scholarship has been---the two main foci of that scholarship being Utopia and More's biography and martyrdom---and how little criticism there is even today on any of More's other works apart from Utopia (and even for Book I of that work).

8. Thomas More was an extremely sophisticated writer---nowhere is this more evident than in his History of Richard III and in the three literary dialogues: Utopia, Book I, the Dialogue Concerning Heresies, and the Dialogue of Comfort. Contrary to the view of many critics that these works are rambling and incoherent, and lacking in structure, and that the use of the dialogue form contributes nothing to the argument, I show in this study that these works do have a clear and coherent, albeit rather convoluted structure to them, and that More's use of dialogue is genuinely dialectical---that the individual speakers in the three literary dialogues make a genuine contribution to the development of the argument, and that the movement from speaker to speaker in the History of Richard III is also genuinely dialectical---anticipating the art of these three later literary dialogues. To this end I have provided an interpretive reading/analysis of each of the works, focussing on More's "art of dialogue," detailing all the major twists and turns in the arguments or discussions between the speakers.

9. Given the great sophistication of these works, I would argue very strongly, at the risk of sounding boring and uncontroversial about an author who has been surrounded by controversy in recent years, for the need for a "What Happens in Hamlet" kind of analysis of More's texts. Though the Yale editions of the English version of History of Richard III {4} (1963) and Utopia (1965) were published over twenty-five years ago, the other editions---the Dialogue of Comfort (1976), the Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1981), and the Latin version of the Historia Ricardi Tertii (1986)---were published much more recently and have not yet attracted much critical attention. No comprehensive study of More's dialogues has even been published---I think the time is ripe now for such a study.


1. A Man for All Seasons

1.1. The Art of Dialogue

10. {5} Central to the rhetorical culture of Renaissance humanism is what might best be called "the art of dialogue." The post-classical use of the dialogue form has not yet been studied in any detail. This is surprising given the great popularity of this literary form, both in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. There is a continuous tradition of the use of the dialogue as a literary form from the time of Plato onwards right down to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and beyond. The dialogue form enjoyed a further increase in popularity in the Renaissance period. Among the earlier practitioners of the art of dialogue, one finds not only Plato, but also Lucian, Cicero and Seneca; many of the Church Fathers, among them Justin Martyr, Jerome and Augustine; several mediaeval theologians including Gregory the Great, Anselm and Abelard; and several Renaissance humanists, including Petrarch, Valla, and Erasmus.

11. Several of More's most important works are organized in the form of literary dialogues or include reported dialogues as part of the text. The form of Book I of Utopia (1516--1518) is clearly that of a literary dialogue.[1] Besides the Utopia, the most important uses of the dialogue structure by More are in his two major English dialogues, the Dialogue Concerning Heresies (1529, 2nd ed. 1531), and the Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation (written in 1534). Several of More's other works also make extensive use of indirect discourse and of dramatic monologue. The History of Richard III (1513--1518)---both Latin and English versions---includes several orations and reported dialogues, and one long debate. In De Tristitia, More makes extensive use of dramatic monologue in the scenes in which Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane, addresses the sleeping apostles. One of More's prison letters, "The Letter of Margaret Roper to Alice Alington,"[2] is also arranged in the form of a literary dialogue between More and his daughter Margaret Roper. And the list goes on.[3] {6}

12. One of the major difficulties in approaching More's dialogues is that the definitive history of the literary dialogue has yet to be written. Until more work has been done on charting the development and evolution of the dialogue as a literary form, we are on very uncertain grounds as modern readers in determining the conventions of this genre. In particular, because of the almost complete lack of any general studies on the post-classical dialogue as a literary form,[4] it is necessary to proceed inductively. Only when most of the major practitioners of the art of dialogue in the Renaissance period have been carefully examined will it be possible to make any kind of reliable generalizations about the dialogue form as a Renaissance genre.[5] Nor is it sufficient to examine isolated works by individual authors. Each of the dialogues that More wrote is very different in structure and tone from the others.[6] Indeed, More seems to have been one of those authors who never did the same thing twice. There is a far greater degree of commonality among the dialogues of Erasmus, whether it be the Anti-Barbari, the Colloquies or the Ciceronianus. More's use of dialogue is in any case quite different from Erasmus's. And both in turn are very different from such other great practitioners of the 'art of dialogue' as Jean Bodin or Galileo Galilei, whose Dialogue Concerning Two New Sciences is one of the best examples of this genre in the Renaissance period.

13. The situation is further complicated by the unfamiliarity of most modern readers with the literary and rhetorical conventions underlying Renaissance prose writing. It is not surprising, then, to find that More's works like those of the other major prose writers of the period, have been relatively neglected by comparison with the works of most of the important Renaissance poets and dramatists. Indeed, in sharp contrast with much of the best poetry and drama of the period, Renaissance prose works with rare exceptions have remained the preserve of a very small group of literary and historical specialists.

14. The Renaissance period, despite all appearances to the contrary, is undoubtedly one of {7} the most neglected periods in Western intellectual history. We have in many ways a much clearer understanding of the works of the mediaeval scholastic philosophers than we do of the Renaissance humanists. Until very recently what few humanistic texts, such as More's Utopia or Erasmus's Praise of Folly or Machiavelli's The Prince, were still being read, were almost always interpreted totally outside their historical contexts.

15. Many of the literary forms or genres employed by Renaissance writers, such as the writing of literary dialogues, are no longer a part of our modern literary culture. Literary critics today often make the mistake of imposing peculiarly modern conceptions of genre on mediaeval and Renaissance texts. The cardinal sin here is anachronism; for example, we see the attempt often made to interpret Renaissance dialogue in general in terms of the later traditions of the bourgeois novel, or, in particular, that of trying to read More's Utopia from the perspective of nineteenth- and twentieth-century socialist and Marxist utopias. Renaissance dialogue is quite clearly neither drama nor novel, and especially not the latter. In the case of More's Utopia, though it gave its name to a genre, it is at best only a very remote antecedent of modern utopian fiction.

16. It is absurd, for example, to call Utopia a novel, since the genre we know as the bourgeois novel only came into existence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, though it had obvious precedents in the mediaeval and Renaissance romance and the classical epic. Clearly, Utopia owes more than a little to the mediaeval and Renaissance traveller's tales that were so popular in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Just as clearly it owes as much to the whole tradition of the literary dialogue and the genre of classical works of political and moral philosophy "De Optimo Statu Reipublicae" ("On the Best State of a Commonwealth"), but whatever it is, it is clearly not a novel.

17. Utopia is not the only work of More's to be badly served by modern schemes of generic classification. In much the same way, all too often More's History of Richard III is dismissed {8} out of hand as an example of historical writing just because it does not fit within the framework of modern so-called scientific canons of historicity. This somewhat begs the question since "scientific" historiography did not come into existence before the nineteenth century. The crucial question here is what More's humanist contemporaries expected from historical writing and whether the History of Richard III falls within the broad range of Renaissance historiography. Some modern critics, no doubt influenced by Shakespeare's Tragedy of King Richard III, have persisted in seeing More's work as a "satirical drama"[7] rather than a work of historiography. While More's History of Richard III makes extensive use of reported speeches and orations it is clearly not a drama in the conventional sense of the word or for that matter a formal literary dialogue. However, there are enough similarities in the use of dialogue between the History of Richard III and More's three great formal dialogues to justify including it in this study.

18. Despite all pretences to the contrary most modern literary critics, especially the so-called literary theorists, show little sensitivity to the historical contexts of the literary texts that they study. There is no real recognition here of the passage of time. Literary genres seem to exist for them only in some kind of pseudo-Platonic realm of forms. There is no real acknowledgement of the possibility that literary genres and rhetorical conventions may have evolved and developed and changed over time. At most these critics may grudgingly recognise some kind of rupture or discontinuity with the past in that new genres have come into use that did not exist before.

19. When confronted by the extraordinary wealth and variety of Renaissance literary genres, one is forced to recognise the very limited value of modern literary theoretical approaches for the understanding of this great mass of material. This is clearest in the case of Renaissance prose genres. What work has been done on Renaissance prose genres has been mainly on the seventeenth century when such modern prose genres as the essay were {9} beginning to evolve. When we go back to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we are on far less certain grounds.

20. Among the most serious mistakes that modern critics and historians make is either to ignore the very serious discontinuities and cultural breaks between the Renaissance, especially the early Renaissance, and the modern period, and to pass off Renaissance humanists as modern authors, or else to ignore the whole passage of over a thousand years of mediaeval culture and civilization and to claim that the Renaissance was nothing more than a revival of classical culture pure and simple. Both approaches end up being extremely reductive.

21. When it comes to the dialogue structure itself, the greatest danger facing modern readers in interpreting these texts, is that of making a naive comparison between More and Plato. To call More's dialogues Platonic is begging the question since Plato essentially created the genre and all subsequent literary dialogues almost inevitably end up being compared, usually to their disadvantage, with Plato's dialogues.

22. Thomas More stands out as one of the most important practitioners of Platonic dialogue in the sixteenth century---not only in the Utopia but also in his two great English dialogues: the Dialogue Concerning Heresies and The Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation. However, More's English dialogues owe at least as much to the whole tradition of patristic dialogue as they do to Plato. Most of the great Church Fathers of Christian antiquity from the time of Justin Martyr (c.150 A.D.) onwards wrote dialogues, including St. Augustine, and the form was also adopted by many mediaeval philosophers including St. Anselm and Abelard. In particular, More's most important polemical work, the Dialogue Concerning Heresies seems to be modelled not only on Plato's major dialogues but also on the patristic and mediaeval tradition of Streitdialogen, or conflict-dialogues.[8]

23. Given More's extensive reading of patristic texts, we can be fairly certain that he was {10} familiar with most of these exemplars. These patristic dialogues often seem to have had a decidedly polemical thrust to them, though it would be naive to underestimate the element of conflict in Platonic dialogues. Since More was clearly familiar with the works of most of these earlier practitioners of the 'art of dialogue', it would be a serious mistake to interpret More's major works solely within the context of the Platonic tradition.


1.2. Editions: Renaissance and Modern

24. During Thomas More's long and extremely varied public career, he never ceased to find time to write. Even by sixteenth century standards he was extremely prolific (though not as prolific as Erasmus). This becomes all the more remarkable when we consider that More was a practising lawyer and politician who only wrote in his spare time (if one ignores the great mass of Chancery business with which he had to deal at court). For a man as busy as More was, the great variety and scope of his literary output is quite astounding. The sheer extent of More's literary corpus, especially of the English works, often seems quite daunting to modern scholars.

25. Until quite recently, however, most of More's works were not readily available in modern critical editions. This extraordinary neglect has led to a serious underestimation of his importance as a literary writer. This situation has begun to change as a result of the publication of the various volumes of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More by Yale University Press. However, since most of the energy of the Yale editors has gone into textual editing and establishing the text, relatively little work has as yet been done on actual interpretation of the texts, especially of the polemical works which make up the bulk of the English folio edition of 1557.

26. Only now are scholars beginning to acknowledge fully the importance of More's English prose. The 1557 edition of More's Englysh Workes, edited by William Rastell,[9] constitutes the first folio edition of any major English author, except Chaucer, preceding the folio of Ben {11} Jonson's Works by almost sixty years, and the Hemynge and Condell folio edition of Shakespeare by sixty-six years. The sheer size of the folio edition (over fifteen hundred pages), and the early date of composition of the individual works (before 1535), alone should indicate their importance for the study of the development of English prose. (The only other comparable earlier English prose work is Caxton's Malory.)

27. When one also takes into consideration More's Latin works, the Translations of Lucian, his Latin Epigrams, the Utopia (the first English translation of which was made by Ralph Robinson as late as 1551), the Latin version of the Historia Richardi Tertii, More's anti-Lutheran satire the Responsio ad Lutherum, the Latin letters (some of which were really essays or tracts for the times), and finally the De Tristitia Christi (his last work written in the Tower), then More emerges as an author of major importance. More's Latin Works were collected together and published in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Basle (1563), Louvain (1565), and Frankfurt (1689).[10] Indeed, More's international reputation in his own time was based on his Latin works (and not on his English ones), especially on the Utopia, but also his Latin poetry, his joint translations with Erasmus of Lucian, and some of his Latin letters (which were published or circulated in manuscript form in his own lifetime). More was unique among English writers in being equally eloquent in both Latin and English, his closest rivals being, perhaps, Sir Francis Bacon and John Milton. He was also the first major English author to be affected both by Renaissance Humanism and by the English Reformation, as an outstanding defender of the Catholic side.

28. It is hardly necessary to pay tribute to the indefatigable industry of the Yale editors; their work is well enough known. One has only to examine the individual volumes to see what a superb job the Yale editors have done. Often, the scholarly apparatus equals in bulk or even exceeds the lengths of the texts themselves. And More's literary output could hardly be called slim to begin with. The many handsomely bound volumes (some in two or three {12} physical parts) are a monument to the endeavours of the Yale editors and of the publishing efforts of Yale University Press.

29. However, one of the paradoxical effects of a major humanistic enterprise like the Yale edition is that it often leads to a profound re-evaluation and sometimes radical revision of the very scholarly judgements and opinions expressed by the editors themselves. This is certainly true of the Yale edition which has already led to a profound revaluation, a revaluation that is still very much in progress, of More's status in literary and intellectual history. Reading through the scholarly apparatus of the various volumes of The Complete Works, one cannot help but feel, that, for all their immense erudition, the Yale editors were only laying a foundation---a very important foundation, one must admit---for future research. The monumental labours of the Yale editors have raised at least as many new questions about More---both the man and his works---as they have provided answers. No one has yet done justice to the complexity and richness, and profundity of More's thought.

30. Work on the Yale edition of The Complete Works of St. Thomas More began just over thirty-five years ago in the late 1950s,[11] though the first volumes to be published, the editions of Richard III and Utopia, did not appear until 1963 and 1965 respectively. Both editions represented the very best in contemporary humanistic scholarship and received the highest praise in reviews published in many academic journals at the time.[12] And yet such are the vicissitudes of literary scholarship that many an edition is rendered obsolete almost as soon as it is published. I think it is fair to say that after the passage of just over twenty-five years, both editions would have to be very substantially revised, if not completely reedited, if they were to be republished today. The case of Richard III is especially clear.

31. The editors of the Yale edition have been fortunate over the last twenty to thirty years to have made some {13} extraordinary manuscript discoveries and to have uncovered some previously unknown copies of early printed editions of More's works. Undoubtedly, the most exciting of these finds was the discovery in 1963 in Spain of the autograph manuscript of De Tristitia, More's last major work, written while he was in the Tower of London. It was found in the cathedral of Valencia, where, completely unknown to English scholars, it had been venerated for centuries as a relic of the Catholic martyr. (It was later edited by Clarence Miller and appeared as Volume 14 of the Yale edition). However, another discovery almost as important was that made by Daniel Kinney of a manuscript in Paris containing a copy of the Latin version of Richard III, which, while not the autograph, was clearly superior to any of the previously known Latin texts that had provided the basis of Sylvester's edition in Volume 2 of the Yale edition in 1963.

32. Faced with this unexpected discovery, the Yale editors could perhaps have chosen to reedit Volume 2. However, there was no good reason to revise the edition of the English version (the Latin and the English versions appear on facing pages in Volume 2). Most scholarly readers would still agree with Sylvester's original decision to use the 1557 text in the folio edition of More's English Works as his base text, rather than the earlier but obviously corrupt texts incorporated into the Chronicles of Grafton and Hall. The Yale editors made what was perhaps the wisest choice by including a new edition of the Latin version (together with Daniel Kinney's excellent English translation) in Volume 15 of The Complete Works in 1986. Kinney also used this opportunity to add additional notes to reflect scholarly developments since 1963. It does mean, however, that any serious student of More's Richard III will have to balance and juggle the two volumes in his hands if he wants to compare the Latin and English versions. Although the English version is the one known to tradition and provides the basis for Shakespeare's Richard III, no serious More scholar can afford to ignore the Latin version any longer, especially in light of Kinney's work.

33. While there have been no such dramatic finds in the case of Utopia, the publication of {14} the Yale edition has had the effect of stimulating quite intense critical debates about the nature of the text. Prior to the publication of the Yale edition of Utopia some English professors did not even realise that the work was written originally in Latin, and made the mistake of taking Ralph Robinson's 1551 English translation for the original. Few scholars would still make that mistake today. Several studies have appeared in recent years that analyse in depth the literary and rhetorical features of the text. As a result, we now have a much better appreciation of the complex ironies and ambiguities underlying the surface of the work. Unfortunately, the text has become more elusive and harder to pin down than ever. We also have a much better understanding of the political and social conditions of the early sixteenth century. It is much harder now to justify the totally anachronistic misreadings of Utopia as a precursor of either enlightenment liberalism[13] or of modern-day socialist and communist political philosophies.[14]

34. Given the extensive revaluation of the early sixteenth century historical background of Utopia in recent years, Hexter's introduction almost certainly would have to be rewritten. (His co-editor Surtz's contribution has better stood the test of time). So much has been published since the Utopia volume came out that it would require an additional supplementary volume to bring the commentary up to date. In addition, many modern translations of Utopia have also appeared in recent years, including some superior to the one incorporated into the Yale edition.

35. The two English dialogues, the Dialogue Concerning Heresies and the Dialogue of Comfort in Tribulation stand out among More's later works for their literary sophistication and technique. More was criticised even by some of his contemporaries for the sheer extent of his English writings, and some of the later English works show signs of carelessness and hurried composition, but the two English dialogues at least are very carefully crafted works and call for close reading and rereading. The first modern critical edition, based on the early {15} printed editions, of the Dialogue Concerning Heresies was published in 1981. And the first modern critical edition of The Dialogue Concerning Comfort in Tribulation, was published in 1976. It made use not only of the early printed editions but also of two sixteenth century manuscripts, one of which, the "Corpus Christi Manuscript," provided the base text for the Yale edition. Since the publication of the Yale Edition two more manuscripts have been found, though, unlike the "Paris Manuscript" of the Latin version of Richard III, the differences are not substantive enough to necessitate re-editing the text. Neither of More's two English dialogues has yet attracted much serious critical attention.


1.3. Prospectus of the Work

36. For my study of Richard III, Richard S. Sylvester's edition of the English version in CW 2 and Daniel Kinney's critical edition of the Latin version (together with a modern translation), will prove to be indispensable. Kinney's edition, included in CW 15, is based on the recently discovered Paris Manuscript and represents the first genuinely critical edition of the Latin text, replacing the two earlier Latin texts included by R. S. Sylvester in his edition of the English version in CW 2. For the first time, it is possible to examine seriously the relationships between the two versions. I agree with Kinney's conclusion that the Latin version is dramatically complete. Many of the differences between the two versions are a reflection of the different audiences---one English and the other international---that More had in mind when he wrote his history. The two versions, however, do not always agree even on basic details: Buckingham, for example, seems to play a much more active role in the Latin than in the English versions. More obviously felt free in the Latin version to give a slightly different account of events, to add speeches not found in the English, and to rearrange the order of the materials. These differences no doubt reflect the basic freedom all Renaissance historians claimed in selecting and interpreting the incidents of history.

37. The vast literature on Utopianism is largely irrelevant to my study. Most so-called {16} utopias are only really remotely connected to More's "golden little book". More clearly had no intention of creating a new genre, and we seriously misread his text by viewing it in the light of the later development and evolution of utopian literature. In fact, there are explicit clues given in the text itself, obvious to More's contemporaries, about the genre (or genres) that the Utopia is modelled on. The double title (De optimo statu reipublicae deque nova insula utopia, "Concerning the best state of a commonwealth and the new island of Utopia" reveals More's true intentions. The Utopia was evidently meant to be read both as a work of moral and political philosophy, and as a work of fiction, specifically as a travel romance. More's libellus, his little book, defies easy interpretation. The enormous commentary and the vast erudition of the Yale Edition has only sparked more debate about the meaning of More's seminal work. I think the real value of the work lies in the questions it forces us to ask about our place in society and in the world, and not in the answers it allegedly gives.

38. The Dialogue Concerning Heresies is a neglected classic, yet C. S. Lewis, who was generally rather critical of More, called it the best Platonic dialogue in English.[15] The Dialogue Concerning Heresies relates a series of imaginary debates between Chancellor More and a Messenger, who represents the Protestant position. It is important to recognise that there are no straw-men in More's dialogues, though there are, of course, winners and losers. The Messenger, though himself a Catholic, puts forward a very strong case for the Lutheran side, which Chancellor More then rebuts. More was obviously writing for other Catholics, with the intention of showing them how to answer the Protestant arguments. The Dialogue Concerning Heresies contains some of More's best merry tales, usually put into the mouth of the Messenger. Many of them deal, in the best Chaucerian tradition, with the follies and corruptions of human nature, including the Church. As a Catholic reformer, More did not attempt to hide the abuses within the church, but he rejected the revolutionary changes advocated by Luther and other early Protestants. {17}

39. After More's imprisonment in the Tower, he wrote his last great masterpiece: the Dialogue of Comfort. The nominal setting of the Dialogue of Comfort is Hungary, on the eve of the Turkish invasion in 1527. Though the work has been read as an allegory of More's own personal situation and of the fate of the Catholics in England, he was also genuinely concerned about the terrible dangers posed to a theologically-divided Europe by the Turkish invasions. The Dialogue of Comfort clearly works on more than one level. Among other things, it contains what is probably the first serious philosophical and theological treatment, and certainly the first in English, since classical antiquity and the patristic age of the problems of doubt, despair, suicide and martyrdom. And yet, paradoxically, it is a also work of consolation in the tradition of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy.

40. As an aid to scholars, I have added a major appendix to the thesis.

41. In the appendix I have compiled a one-hundred-and-fifty-page topical bibliography of More Scholarship, containing about two thousand entries, organised according to individual works (the Utopia section alone has about fifty [sixty in electronic version] subsections), and also according to more general topics, e.g. More and the Law, etc.[17] The "Bibliographical Appendix," which has a separate table of contents, is presented both as a tool for scholars, and as part of my argument. As far as Utopia is concerned I have not included general studies of Utopian literature, except where they have had a section of at least four or five pages on More's Utopia. Otherwise, I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible.

42. Even just casually glancing through the items in the bibliography makes it very clear that there are still giant gaps in modern More scholarship. The two main concentrations of the bibliographical items are on More's biography and famous martyrdom, and on the Utopia. Almost half of the bibliography (forty-five percent) on More in the Bibliographical Appendix is devoted to background studies, including biographies, plays, general studies of his life and works, etc. While the items on Utopia comprise about twenty-five percent [about thirty percent in the electronic version] of the {18} total, those on the other three works under consideration in this study comprise a much smaller portion of the total. Bibliographical items on Richard III, A Dialogue Concerning Heresies, and A Dialogue of Comfort comprise five percent, three percent, and three percent respectively. (The total for all of More's early 'humanistic works'---including Richard III but excluding Utopia---is 15.5%, while the later polemical and Tower works combined---including the two English dialogues---also comprise 15.5% of the total.) Among the items on Utopia, those that deal mainly or exclusively with Book I (the Dialogue of Counsel, and Raphael Hythloday sections) comprise only eight percent of the Utopia bibliography, or about two percent of the total bibliography. My study is aimed at partly redressing the tremendous imbalance and one-sidedness in modern scholarship that these figures reveal.


1.4. A Part of His Own

43. Erasmus once called his good friend Thomas More a "homo omnium horarum," which was translated by one of More's English contemporaries as "a man for all seasons,"[18] but which might be better translated into modern English as "a man for every situation or opportunity." Another of More's friends, John Colet, called him "England's one universal genius".[19] More, as many of his contemporaries, especially Erasmus, noted, had a genius for adapting himself to the situation at hand, and for always playing a part. William Roper, More's son-in-law and his first biographer after Erasmus, records an incident in More's youth that was to be characteristic of the man throughout his life. When he was only thirteen or fourteen, More became a page in the household of Cardinal Morton, at the time Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Chancellor of England. Roper relates that during his stay in Cardinal Morton's household:

thoughe he was younge of yeares, yeat wold he at Christmas tyde sodenly sometimes steppe in among the players, and neuer studyeng for the matter, make a parte of his owne there presently among them, which made the {19}lookers on more sporte then all the plaiers beside. In whose witt and towardnes the Cardinall muche delightynge, wold often say of him vnto the nobles that divers tymes dined with him: "This child here wayting at the table, whosoeuer shall liue to see it, will proue a mervailous man."[20]

More's genius for improvisation and play, even on very serious occasions, a quality in which he very much resembled Erasmus, stayed with him all his life even to his very last moments on the scaffold.

44. When Erasmus first visited England in 1499, he met Thomas More, who, at twenty-one, was the youngest and most brilliantly precocious member of a small group of English humanists who were devoting themselves to the study of Greek, and of the new learning coming out of Italy. However, it was not More's intellectual brilliance that struck Erasmus so much as his affability and genius for friendship:

I find here a climate at once agreeable and extremely healthy, and such a quantity of intellectual refinement and scholarship, not of the usual pedantic and trivial kind either, but profound and learned and truly classical, in both Latin and Greek, that I have little longing left for Italy, except for the sake of visiting it. When I listen to Colet it seems to me that I am listening to Plato himself. Who could fail to be astonished at the universal scope of Grocyn's accomplishments? Could anything be more clever or profound or sophisticated than Linacre's mind? Did Nature ever create anything kinder, sweeter, or more harmonious than the character of Thomas More?[21]

45. More's life spanned approximately the last quarter of the fifteenth and the first third of the sixteenth century, from 1477/78 to 1535. When he was born in 1477 or 1478, England was just recovering from a devastating period of civil wars. Indeed, the final episode, which More dealt with in part in his own History of Richard III, took place when More was a young boy of five or six, during the reign of Richard III. When he died, England was going through a very stormy, political and religious revolution---commonly known as the English Reformation---a revolution essentially engineered from above by Henry VIII, Thomas Cranmer, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Thomas Cromwell, Henry's secretary. More was only the most illustrious of many victims, both Protestant and Catholic, that perished in {20}the eight-year-long bloodbath that followed More's resignation as Lord Chancellor in 1532 and essentially ended with the death of Secretary Cromwell in 1540, ironically himself one of the main architects of the Henrician purges and "witchhunts" of the 1530's.

46. Most of More's major works touch directly or indirectly on the momentous changes that were going on in the Western Christendom or Europe of this period. Throughout most of this period, England enjoyed relative peace and prosperity, although not all benefitted from this state of affairs. The "enclosures" were only the most dramatic example of the profound social and economic dislocations and hardships experienced by many people at this time.

47. After spending a couple of years as a page in the household of Cardinal Morton, young More was sent to study at Oxford where he spent two years from 1492--1494. Perhaps Cardinal Morton thought that his brilliant protégé might in time make a good churchman; however, his father, John More, had other plans, and in 1494 More was sent first to New Inn in London, and then in 1496 to Lincoln's Inn to study law. Young More obviously found time to study Greek and write poetry in both Latin and English while attending 'Law School'.[22] By 1501, More had been admitted to the Bar of London and had begun a long and successful career as a lawyer and politician that would last more than thirty years.

48. During the period 1501--1504, More seems to have boarded at least part of the time with the main Carthusian monastery in London. Far too much has been made of this by certain modern biographers and critics of More, especially Richard Marius.[23] William Roper and Nicholas Harpsfield, writing some fifty years after the event, are the main sources for this account: "After which tyme he gaue himselfe to devotion and prayer in the Charter house of London, religiously lyvinge there, without vowe, about iiijer yeares."[24] During this time he continued to pursue his law career by lecturing at Furnivall's Inn, another of the Inns of Court.

49. There seems to be little doubt that More did consider at one point becoming a priest, {21} but it is quite another matter to suppose that he would necessarily have become a Carthusian, given the criticisms he makes of the monastic life in general later in Utopia and in the Letter to a Monk, addressed to the Carthusian John Batmanson.[25] True, the Carthusians had a reputation for austerity and piety, and were generally exempted from the widespread criticism of monastic life in the late Middle Ages. Even Erasmus and Colet both regarded them in a favourable light. But clearly, had More actually become a priest, rather than joining a religious order, it is much more likely as Louis Martz suggests,[26] that, being as talented and ambitious as he was, he would have risen in time to the very top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and become an Archbishop of Canterbury or York, or like his friend Cuthbert Tunstall, of London or Durham.


1.5. All the World's a Stage

50. As a young man Thomas More wrote plays, though these have been lost to us.[27] One of his surviving English poems is a four hundred and fifty line farce written in Skeltonic meter, called A mery gest how a sergeaunt wolde lern to be a frere,[28] which may well have been presented at the Christmas Revels at the Inns of Court. The farce is almost Chaucerian in its ribaldry, and shows strong dramatic possibilities, which with a bit more development could have been turned into an interlude of the type written by More's brother-in-law, John Rastell, or by Rastell's son-in-law, John Heywood.[29] The basic plot of A Mery Gest has similarities to Rastell's Johan Johan,[30] and also Heywood's The Play Called the Four PP.[31] Though More never did go on to write any interludes, the image of the stage-play is an important one that runs through his extant works. The basic topos or metaphor is a very old one, going at least as far back as the second century A.D. Greek satirist Lucian, and indeed it is in More's Latin translation of Lucian's Menippus (1505), that it first finds expression in More's writings. An English verse translation was made shortly afterwards from More's Latin, probably by More's brother-in-law John Rastell:[32] {22}

Me thought mannys lyfe wel be lykenid might To a stage play wher it fortunyth alway That they that be the players shal be that day Apparelyd in dyvers straunge clothyng... For as I thynk a play ought to be Of all maner of kyndis & of every degre And some man in the myddis of the play Changeth his garment not hit happyth not alway That in the same aray every man And order shal procede as he began... Yet for all that not suffred there But a short whyle that garment to were But when the play is fynyshed & every man Delyveryng up his apparell than Alteryng his hye estate and his aray His is then as he was before they play.[33]

More make's use of this image again later in Richard III (1513--1518); after describing the farcical election of Richard as king, stage-managed at every step by the Duke of Buckingham and Richard himself, the narrator concludes:

And in a stage play all the people know right wel, that he that playeth the sowdayne is percase a sowter. Yet if one should can so lyttle good, to shewe out of seasonne what acquaintance he hath with him, and calle him by his owne name whyle he standeth in his magestie, one of his tormentors might hap to breake his head, and worthy for marring of the play. And so they said that these matters bee Kynges games, as it were stage playes, and for the more part plaied vpon scafoldes. In which pore men be but ye lokers on. And thei yt wise be, wil medle no farther. For they that sometyme step vp and playe wt them, when they cannot play their partes, they disorder the play & do themself no good.[34]

51. Similarly, at the end of Book I of Utopia (1516), Morus in criticizing Hythloday's "academic" philosophy, cites the example of an actor, who in the middle of a comedy by Plautus comes on stage reciting a passage in Octavia where Seneca is disputing with Nero: "Would it not have been preferable to take a part without words than by reciting something inappropriate to make a hodgepodge of comedy and tragedy? You would have spoiled and upset the actual play by bringing in irrelevant matter---even if your contribution would have been superior in itself."[35] And certainly, as we know, the historical More was quite capable {23} at different times to both "play a part of his own", and also "a part without words." In The Four Last Things (1522), in the treatment 'of Pride', he again introduces the image of the stage play:

If yu sholdest perceue yt one wer ernestly proud of the wering of a gay golden gown, while the lorel playth the lord in a stage playe, woldest yu not laugh at his foly, considering that yu art very sure, yt whan ye play is done, he shal go walke a knave in his old cote? Now yu thinkest thy selfe wyse ynough whyle yu art proude in thy players garment, & forgettest that whan thy play is done, yu shalt go forth as pore as he. Nor yu remembrest not that thy pageant may happen to be done as sone as hys.[36]

From there More goes on to develop the Platonic metaphor of the world as a prison---a theme that later receives extended development in Book III of the Dialogue of Comfort (1534), written when More was himself in prison. That the "World as Stage/Scaffold", which already has ironic overtones in Richard III, could take on a sinister meaning is clear a couple of pages later in his treatment 'of envy'. The author points out the foolishness of envying "a poore soule, for playing the lord one night in an enterlude. And also couldest yu enuy a perpetual sick man,... a man that is but a prysoner damned to deth, a man that is in ye cart alredy carying forward?"[37] He goes on to cite the example of a great Duke[38] who threw a great wedding party for the marriage of his daughter and asks the reader to imagine himself there:

if thou beyng thereat, and at the syght of the rialty and honoure shewed hym of all the country about resorting to hym, whyle they knele & crouche to hym, & at euerye word barehed bigrace him, if thou sholdest sodeinly be surely aduertised, yt for secret treason lately detected to the king he shold vndoutedly be taken the morow his courte al broken vp, his goodes ceased, his wife put out, his children dysherited, himselfe caste in prison, broughte furth & arrayned, the matter out of question, & he should be condemned, his cote armour reuersed, his gilt spurres hewen of his heles, himself hanged drawen and quartered, howe thinkeste thou by thy fayth amyd thyne enuy, shouldeste thou not sodaynly chaunge into pity?[39]

52. More never had any illusions about the part he was called to play on the world's stage,[40] and when it came time to take his own stand upon the scaffold, he did it with {24} characteristic poise, aplomb and self-mastery. The early Protestant historian Edward Hall was perplexed by More's famous death-stand: "I cannot tell whether I should call him a foolishe wyseman, or a wise foolisheman" and after recounting some of More's famous jokes on the scaffold concludes: "thus wt a mocke he ended his life."[41] Roper and Harpsfield also record, in a more sympathetic fashion, some of these jests: "Where, goinge vppe the scaffold, which was so weake that it was ready to fall, he said merilye to master Leiuetenaunte: 'I pray you, master Leiuetenaunte, see me salf vppe, and for my cominge downe let me shifte for my self.'"[42] {25}




[1] The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More (New Haven: Yale UP, 1963--). Cited herafter as CW.

[2] CW 14, 769.


[1] Book II is structured as a declamation, for which the dialogue in Book I serves as an introductory 'frame.'

[2] See The Correspondence of Sir Thomas More, ed. E. F. Rogers (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1947), #206, pp. 514--32. This letter, written by More's eldest daughter to his step-daughter, reports a dialogue between Margaret Roper and her father. It is believed by most More scholars to be a joint composition by Margaret Roper and her father.

[3] To this list at the very least can be added the voices of the suffering souls in Purgatory in The Supplication of Souls, and the 'mini-dialogue' of the Wife of Botulph's Wharf in Book VIII of The Confutation of Tyndale's Answer, CW 8, 883/28--905/23.

[4] For studies of post-classical dialogue, see S. Lehrer, Boethius and Dialogue (Princeton, NJ: 1985); D. Marsh, The Quattrocento Dialogue: Classical Tradition and Humanist Innovation (Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1980); E. Merrill, The Dialogue in English Literature (New York: 1911); B. R. Voss, Der Dialog in der fr&uuhchristlichen Literatur (Munich: 1970); K. J. Wilson, "The Continuity of Post-Classical Dialogue," Cithara 21:1 (1981): 23--44 and Incomplete Fictions: The Formation of English Renaissance Dialogue (Washington, DC: Catholic U of America P, 1985).

[5] For some recent attempts to define the dialogue as a Renaissance genre, see C. J. R. Armstrong, "The Dialectical Road to Truth: The Dialogue," French Renaissance Studies, 1540--70: Humanism and the Encyclopedia, ed. P. Sharratt (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1976), 36--57; P. Burke, "The Renaissance Dialogue," RenS 3 (1989): 1--12; V. Cox, The Renaissance Dialogue: Literary Dialogue in its Social and Political Contexts, Castiglione to Galileo (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992); R. Deakins, "The Tudor Prose Dialogue: Genre and Anti-Genre," SEL 20 (1980): 5--23; J. F. Tinkler, "Humanism and Dialogue," Parergon ns 6 (1988): 197--215; and the studies by D. Marsh and K. J. Wilson in n.4.

[6] For general studies of More's 'art of dialogue', see W. M. Gordon, "The Platonic Dramaturgy of Thomas More's Dialogues," JMRS 8 (1978): 193--215; G. Marc'hadour, "Here I Sit: Thomas More's Genius for Dialogue," Thomas More: Essays on the Icon, ed. D. Grace and B. Byron (Melbourne: Dove Publications, 1980), 9--42; and "Thomas More: De la conversation au dialogue," Le dialogue au temps de la Renaissance, ed. M. T. Jones-Davies (Paris: Jean Touzot, 1984), 35--57; R. Pineas, "Thomas More's Use of the Dialogue Form as a Weapon of Religious Controversy," SRen 7 (1960): 193--206; N. R. Sodeman, "Rhetoric in More's English Dialogues," Moreana 59/60 (1978): 13--18; R. S. Sylvester, "Three Dialogues," Moreana 64 (1980): 65--78; and K. J. Wilson, "Thomas More: The Transfiguration of Dialogue," Incomplete Fictions, 137--75. For the dialogue in Utopia, see also D. M. Bevington, "The Dialogue in Utopia: Two Sides of the Question," SP 58 (1961): 496--509; and R. J. Schoeck, "'A Nursery of Correct and Useful Institutions': On Reading More's Utopia as Dialogue," Moreana 22 (1969): 19--32, rpt. in Essential Articles for the Study of Thomas More, ed. R. S. Sylvester and G. Marc'hadour (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1977), 281--89, 627--30.

[7] See A. Hanham, "Thomas More's Satirical Drama," Richard III and his Early Historians (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1975), 152--190; and D. Grace, "More's Richard III: A 'Satirical Drama?'" Moreana 57 (1978): 31--38. ([16])

[8] On Streitdialogen, see E. Reiss, "Conflict and its Resolution in Medieval Dialogues," Arts libéraux et philosophie au Moyen Age (Montreal: Institute d'études médiévales; Paris: J. Vrin, 1969), 863--872. {26}

[9] For William Rastell as editor of the English Works, see D. B. Billingsley, "The Editorial Design of the 1557 English Works," Moreana 89 (1986): 39--48; A. W. Reed, "William Rastell and More's English Works," The English Works of Sir Thomas More, ed. W. E. Campbell, and A. W. Reed, 2 vols. (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode; New York: Lincoln MacVeagh, The Dial Press, 1931), Vol. 1: 1--12, rpt. in Essential Articles, 436--46, 663; K. J. Wilson, "Introduction," The Workes of Sir Thomas More Knyght, sometyme Lord Chancellour of England, wrytten by him in the Englysh tonge (London: J. Cawood, J. Waly, A. R. Tottell, 1557; rpt. Scolar Press Facsimiles. London: Scolar P, 1978), 2 vols., with an intro. by K. J. Wilson, [v]--[xiv].

[10] The Basel 1563 Lucubrationes contained the Utopia and Latin correspondence, More's Epigrams, and the Translations from Lucian. The 1565 Louvain Opera omnia added the Historia Ricardii Tertii, the Responsio ad Lutherum and the De tristitia. The Frankfurt 1689 Opera omnia also included the Letter to Bugenhagen (first published Louvain, 1568). On the differences between the Basel Lucubrationes and the Louvain Opera omnia and their relationship to the English Works, see M. Delcourt, "Recherches sur Thomas More: la tradition continentale et la tradition anglaise," Humanisme et Renaissance 3 (1936): 22--42; and J. K. McConica, "Appendix II: The Recusant Traditions of Thomas More," English Humanists and Reformation Politics (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1965), 286--94 (an earlier version as "The Recusant Reputation of Thomas More," Reports of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association 30 (June 1964): 47--61, rpt. in Essential Articles, 136--49, 603--04).

[11] For the history of the Yale Edition (at various stages), see R. Marius, "Looking Back," Miscellanea Moreana: Essays for Germain Marc'hadour (Moreana 100), ed. C. M. Murphy, H. Gibaud and M. A. Di Cesare (Binghamton, NY: MRTS 61, 1989), 555--62; R. J. Schoeck, "The Yale Edition of St. Thomas More," Editing Sixteenth Century Texts: Papers Given at the Editorial Conference, October, 1965, ed. R. J. Schoeck (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1966), 7--10 and "Moreans from Chambers to Marc'hadour: Some Recollections and Reflections," Miscellanea Moreana, 539--46; I. Shenker, "Thomas More: 2 Million Words," New York Times Review of Books 25 Jun. 1975: 3, 40--41; R. S. Sylvester, "Editing Thomas More," British Studies Monitor 3:2 (1973): 4--17 (rev. vers. in Moreana 51 (1976): 26--37) and "Editing Thomas More: The Past and the Future," Moreana 58 (1978): 5--12; and D. R. Watkins, "The St. Thomas More Project," Yale University Library Gazette 36 (1961): 162--68. Sylvester also published an annual newsletter in Moreana, see the section More Scholars, Biographers, and Editors in the Bibliographical Appendix.

[12] For reviews, see The History of Richard III: Editions and Translations and Utopia: Reviews of the Yale Edition of Utopia. in the Bibliographical Appendix.

[13] This is Hexter's view in "Thomas More: On the Margins of Modernity," JBS 1:1 (1961): 20--37. Hexter also, rather amazingly, argued seriously at one point for seeing Calvin's Geneva as a fulfillment of More's Utopian reform program, see "Utopia and Geneva," Action and Conviction in Early Modern Europe, ed. T. K. Rabb and J. E. Seigel (Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1969), 77--89; rpt. in The Vision of Politics on the Eve of the Reformation: More, Machiavelli, and Seyssel (New York: Basic Books; London: Allen Lane, 1973), 107--17.

[14] See K. Kautsky, Thomas Morus und seine Utopia (Stuttgart: J. W. Dietz, 1888), trans. by H. J. Stenning as Thomas More and His Utopia (London: Black; New York: International Library, 1927); and P. Schwartz, "Imagining Socialism: Karl Kautsky and Thomas More," International Journal of Comparative Sociology 30 (1989): 44--56.

[15] English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, Excluding Drama (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1954), 172; rpt. in Essential Articles, 393. {27}

[16] There are very few summaries available of the four works under question, and none as detailed as those that I offer in this study. I know of no real summaries of Book I of Utopia, though there is a summary/paraphrase of Book II available in M. L. Berneri, "Sir Thomas More: Utopia," Journey Through Utopia (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1950), 58--88. The most detailed account of the structure of the History of Richard III is that of Alison Hanham: "Sir Thomas More's Satirical Drama" (see n.7), which attempts to impose a rigid, five-act dramatic structure on More's History. However, I disagree completely with her account of the structure. For the Dialogue Concerning Heresies there is a major summary by J. Gairdner in "Appendix: Abstract of More's Dialogue," Lollardry and the Reformation in England, 4 vols. (London: MacMillan, 1908--13; rpt. New York: Burt Franklin, 1974), 1: 543--78. However, Gairdner summarizes mostly by direct quotation and deals almost exclusively with Book I of the Dialogue Concerning Heresies. The only summary of the Dialogue of Comfort is by Leland Miles in "Appendix A. Synopsis: The Chief Line of Argument in the Dialogue of Comfort," St. Thomas More: A Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation, ed. L. Miles (Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1965), 243--51. However, Miles's summary does not record the contributions of the individual speakers to the development of the dialogue.

[17] There are a number of earlier bibliographies of modern More scholarship, including F. Sullivan, Moreana 1478--1945 (Kansas City: Rockhurst College, 1946); F. and M. P. Sullivan, Moreana: Materials for the Study of St. Thomas More, 7 vols. (Los Angeles: Loyola UP, vols. 1--4 + index: 1964--71, supp. I: 1977?, supp. II: 1985; J. P. Jones, "Recent Studies in More," ELR 9 (1979): 442--58 and A. J. Geritz, "Recent Studies in More (1977--1990)," ELR 22 (1992): 112--40; R. W. Gibson, St. Thomas More: A Preliminary Bibliography of His Works and of Moreana to the Year 1750, With a Bibliography of Utopiana by R. W. Gibson and J. Max Patrick (New Haven: Yale UP, 1961). (For other bibliographies see the section Some Bibliographies in the Bibliographical Appendix.) Of the above-mentioned bibliographies, the two Sullivan bibliographies are arranged alphabetically. The first (Moreana 1478--1945) is a checklist, while the second (which I was unable to consult since it is not available in the UBC library) includes excerpts from the works listed and also has an index. Gibson only covers editions of More's works and Moreana up to 1750. The two English Literary Renaissance bibliographies contain some helpful annotations but also miss most of the recent More scholarship published in nonliterary journals. None of the above bibliographies comes anywhere close to providing the kind of detailed topical analysis of contemporary scholarship that I offer below in the Bibliographical Appendix.

[18] "And as tyme requyreth / a man of merueylous myrth and pastymes / & somtyme of as sad grauyte / as who say. a man for all seasons." John Whittington, The Vulgaria of John Stanbridge and the Vulgaria of Robert Whittinton, ed. B. White, Early English Text Society, 187 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., and Humphrey Milford, Oxford UP, 1932), 64/35--37. Whittington was echoing Erasmus's praise of More in the prefatory letter to The Praise of Folly: "ita pro incredibili morum suauitate facilitateque cum omnibus omnium horarum hominem agere et potes et gaudes," Opus epistolarum Des. Erasmi Roterodami, ed. P. S. Allen, H. M. Allen and H. W. Garrod (hereafter Allen), 11 vols. and index (Oxford: Clarendon P, 1906--47, 1958), I: #222, 460/20--21; cf. Encomium Moriae, Vol. 4/3 of Opera omnia Desiderii Erasmi Roterodami (hereafter ASD), ed. C. H. Miller (Amsterdam-New York: North Holland Co., 1979) 67/18--68/1; ["the incredible sweetness and gentleness of your character makes you able and willing to be a man for all seasons with all men," Desiderius Erasmus: The Praise of Folly, trans. C. H. Miller (New Haven: Yale UP, 1979), 2]. See also Adagia, I.iii.86, Collected Works of Erasmus (hereafter CWE) (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1974--), 31: 304--05.

[19] Quoted by Erasmus: "Ioannes Coletus, vir acris exactique iudicii, in familiaribus colloquiis subinde dicere solet Brittaniae non nisi vnicum esse ingenium, cum haec insula tot egregiis ingeniis floreat" ("John Colet, a sensitive and experienced critic, used to say sometimes in conversation that there was only one able man in the whole of England, though the island is blessed with so many men of outstanding ability"), Allen, IV, #999 21/267--70; cf. CWE 7: 24/292--95. Erasmus echoed Colet's words himself many years later, on hearing news of More's death, in the Preface [A3r] to the Ecclesiastes (1535): "cui pectus erat omni nive candidius, ingenium quale Anglia nec habuit vnquam nec habitura est, alioqui nequaquam infelicium ingeniorum parens" ("whose heart was whiter than snow, a genius such as England never had before, nor ever will have again, though England be the not unhappy mother of geniuses"), ASD V/4, 32/91--94; cf. Allen, XI, #3036, 192/102--104.

[20] William Roper, The Lyfe of Sir Thomas Moore, knighte (hereafter Roper), ed. E. V. Hitchcock, Early English Text Society, 197 (London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford UP, 1935), 5/5--14. {28}

[21] CWE #118, 1: 235/20--236/29: "Coelum tum amoenissimum tum saluberrimum hic offendi; tantum autem humanitatis atque eruditionis, non illius protritae ac triuialis, sed reconditae, exactae, antiquae, Latinae Graecaeque, vt iam Italiam nisi visendi gratia haud multum desyderem. Coletum meum cum audio, Platonem ipsum mihi videor audire. In Grocino quis illum absolutum disciplinarum orbem non miretur? Linacri iudicio quid acutius, quid altius, quid emunctius? Thomae Mori ingenio quid vnquam finxit natura vel mollius, vel dulcius, vel felicius?" Allen I: #118, 273/17--274/25.

[22] The course of studies at the Inns of Court was much broader and much more informal than at modern law schools, and in many ways the Inns of Court collectively functioned like a third "university" in England (rather than as narrow professional schools in the modern sense). For background on sixteenth century legal education in England and on the continent see---E. W. Ives, "The Common Lawyers in Pre-Reformation England," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 5 ser., 18 (1968): 145--73 and "The Reputation of the Common Lawyers in English Society, 1450--1550," University of Birmingham Historical Journal 7 (1959/60): 130--61; R. J. Schoeck, "Canon Law in England on the Eve of the Reformation," Medieval Studies 25 (1963): 125--47; J. W. Bouwsma, "Lawyers and Early Modern Culture," American Historical Review 78 (1983): 303--27.

[23] Thomas More: A Biography (New York: Vintage Books, 1985), 34--43.

[24] Roper, 6/9--11; cf. Nicholas Harpsfield, The life and death of Sr Thomas Moore, knight, sometymes Lord high Chancellor of England (hereafter Harpsfield), ed. E. V. Hitchcock, with an introduction by R. W. Chambers, Early English Text Society 186 (London: Humphrey Milford, Oxford UP, 1932), 17/8--18.

[25] The monk is not identified in the letter. For the identification of the recipient, see D. Knowles, "Appendix I: Sir Thomas More's Letter 'To a Monk,'" The Religious Orders in England, 3 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1959; rpt. with corrections 1971), III: 469.

[26] "Thomas More: The Search for the Inner Man," Miscellanea Moreana: Essays for Germain Marc'hadour. Moreana 100: Volume XXVI Mélanges Marc'hadour, ed. C. M. Murphy, H. Gibaud, and M. A. Di Cesare (Binghamton, NY: MRTS 61, 1989), 405--07; rpt. in Sir Thomas More: The Search For The Inner Man (New Haven: Yale UP, 1990), 17--18.

[27] In a letter to the schoolmaster John Holt, probably written in 1501, More wrote, "I have sent you everything you wanted, except the additions I have made to the comedy about Solomon" ("Misimus ad te que volabas omnia, praeter eas partes quas in comediam illam que de Salemone est adiecimus"), St. Thomas More: Selected Letters (hereafter SL), ed. E. F. Rogers, trans. M. Haworth et al., Selected Works of St. Thomas More (New Haven: Yale UP, 1961), 1; The Correspondence of St. Thomas More, ed. E. F. Rogers (hereafter Rogers) (Princeton: Princeton University Press), #3, 2/1--2.

[28] The Anchor Anthology of Sixteenth Century Verse, ed. R.S. Sylvester (Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974), 105--19.

[29] John Rastell was married to More's sister Elizabeth; their daughter Winifred, sister of William Rastell, was married to John Heywood, and one of Winifred's daughters was in turn the mother of the English poet, John Donne. For More's relationship with the Rastells and Heywoods see P. Hogrefe, The Sir Thomas More Circle: A Program of Ideas and Their Impact on Secular Drama (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1959); H. B. Norlund, "The Role of Drama in More's Literary Career," SCJ 13:4 (1982): 59--75; A. W. Reed, Early Tudor Drama: Medwall, the Rastells, Heywood, and the More Circle (London: Methuen, 1926).

[30] Medieval Drama, ed. D. Bevington (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1975), 970--89.

[31] Medieval and Tudor Drama, ed. J. Gassner (New York: Bantam, 1963), 232--62. {29}

[32] A dialogue of the Poet Lucyan---this work survives in a copy in the private collection of Lord Macclesfield at Shirburn Castle, and in a fragmentary copy in Oxford, Bodleian, Douce frag.f.13 (S.T.C. 16895, University Microfilms 136). Constance Smith in An Updating of R. W. Gibson's St. Thomas More: A Preliminary Bibliography, Sixteenth Century Bibliography 20, (St. Louis: Center for Reformation Research, 1981), 39, also lists a copy in the possession of Dulwich College. This work remains unedited. More's Latin text and the English translation are printed on facing pages. The relevant passage dealing with the topos of "All the world's a stage", was reproduced from Lord Macclesfield's copy in The English Works of Sir Thomas More (hereafter EW 1931), ed. W. E. Campbell and A. W. Reed, 2 vols. (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode; New York: Lincoln MacVeagh, The Dial Press, 1931), Volume 1: Early Poems, Pico Della Mirandola, Richard III, The Four Last Things, I: 209--10, as a footnote to Richard III (see below n.33).

[33] "Haec igitur spectanti mihi, persimilis hominum uita pompae cuipiam longae uidebatur, cui praesit ac disponat quaeque fortuna, ex his qui pompam agunt, diuersos uariosque cuique habitus accommodans.... nam omnigenum, ut opinor, debet esse spectaculum. Quin habitus quorundam plerunque in media quoque pompa demutat, neque perpetuo eodem sinit ordine, cultuque progredi quo prodierant.... Et aliquantisper quidem eo cultu permittit uti, uerum ubi iam pompae tempus praeterijt, apparatum quisque restituens, & cum corpore simul exutus amictu, qualis ante fuit efficitur, nihilo a uicino differens." Translations of Lucian, Vol. 3, Part I of The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, ed. C. R. Thompson (New Haven: Yale UP, 1974), 37/20--23, 27--30, 32--35.

[34] The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, Vol. 2: The History of King Richard III (hereafter CW 2), ed. R. S. Sylvester (New Haven: Yale UP, 1963), 80/31--81/10.

[35] "nonne praestiterit egisse mutam personam, quam aliena recitando talem fecisse tragicomoediam? Corruperis enim, peruerterisque praesentem fabulam, dum diuersa permisces, etiam si ea quae tu affers meliora fuerint." Utopia, Vol. 4 of The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More (hereafter CW 4), ed. E. Surtz and J. H. Hexter (New Haven: Yale UP, 1965), 98/18--22 and 372--73, note to 98/17. See also J. Crossett, "More and Seneca," Philological Quarterly 40 (1961): 577--80 and G. Williamson, "Sir Thomas More's View of Drama," MLN 43 (1928): 294--96.

[36] EW 1931, I: 84, 479.

[37] EW 1931, I: 85--86.

[38] Edward Stafford, Duke of Buckingham, executed May 17, 1521. See "Introduction," EW 1931, I: 21--23; and B. Harris, "The Trial of the Third Duke of Buckingham---A Revisionist View," American Journal of Legal History 20 (1976): 15--26.

[39] EW 1931, I: 86, 482--83.

[40] Roper records that he once greatly rejoiced at a visit that Henry VIII paid to More's home in Chelsea, to which More replied: "Howbeit, sonne Roper, I may tell thee I haue no cawse to be prowd thereof, for if my head [could] winne him a castle in Fraunce (for than was there warre betweene vs) it should not faile to goe." Roper, 21/10--13.

[41] Chronicle (1548), fol. ccxxvi, verso, quoted in Sources of Four Plays Ascribed to Shakespeare, ed. G. H. Metz (Columbia, MI: U of Missouri P, 1989), 217.

[42] Roper, p.102/20--103/4; cf. Harpsfield, p.204/1--5. On the dark undertones of this jest on the weakness of the scaffold, see P. Grant, "Thomas More's Richard III: Moral Narration and Humanist Method," Renaissance & Reformation ns 7 (1983): 157--82; rpt. in Language and the Discovery of Method in the English Renaissance (London: Macmillan, 1985), 19--47, 160--67; esp. 19--21.

iEMLS Home Page