In the two hundred years from 1475 London was transformed from a medieval commune into a metropolis of half a million people, a capital city, and a leading European trading center. Lawrence Manley provides a comprehensive account of the changing image and influence of London through its literature, including lyrics, ballads, jests, plays, pageants, chronicles, and treatises; and he shows how the literature and culture of London contributed to the new structures of capitalism, the process of "behavioral urbanization," and the liberation of the individual through the city's concentrated power.
"Manley's book is hugely ambitious and correspondingly huge in size. It is thoughtful and often provocative...its readings are brilliantly instructive." American Historical Review "...his [Manley's] book, documented with superbly chosen literary examples, should become important for advanced students of literary history." Choice "Manley canvasses and analyzes an astonishing array of literary sources ...there is no doubt that students of social and cultural history, as well as literary history, will find this a work of many-faceted values." Albion 'Lawrence Manley's thoroughly researched and well-written book concerns the growth in size and importance of London during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries...Literature and Culture in Early Modern England is an informative and painstakingly researched book...the author does an excellent job of demonstrating how London, a city that grew from 35,000 people in 1501 to 500,000 in 1670, created a change and proliferation of English literature in the early modern period. Lawrence Manley's book will prove useful to scholars of literature and history." Sixteenth Century Journal "The conscientious density of his scholarship makes it a choice between reading his book or half-a-dozen superficial ones." Studies in English Literature "...overall a scholarly achievement wholly admirable in its scope, detail, clarity, and thoughtfulness." Anne Lancashire, Medieval & Renaissance Drama in England