Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions

A gorgious Gallery, of gallant Inuentions. Garnished and decked with diuers dayntie deuises, right delicate and delightfull, to recreate eche modest minde withal. First framed and fashioned in sundrie forms, by diuers worthy workemen of late dayes: and now, ioyned together and builded up: By T. P. Imprinted at London, for Richard Iones. 1578.


A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions was published in 1578, over twenty years after Tottel’s Miscellany and over a decade after the first, now lost, 1566 edition of Handful of Pleasant Delights. When the miscellany was entered in the Stationers’ Register in June 1577, it was given a title that clearly echoed its predecessor – A handefull of hidden Secretes conteigninge therein certaine Sonetes and other pleasante Devises pickt out of the Closet of sundrie worthie writers (Rollins, xiv). Like Handful, A Gorgeous Gallery is a collection of ballads, and names a number of the tunes to which they are to be sung. It is possible that an earlier edition of the miscellany was printed, but if so no evidence of this edition survives. Richard Jones, who was responsible for printing the volume, worked as a printer and bookseller between 1564 and 1611 and is generally associated with the printing and publishing of ballads and poetical miscellanies, including A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1566?; 1584) and Paradise of Dainty Devices (1576), also included in this edition (Melnikoff (2001), 156; Melnikoff (2005), 184). Rollins surmised that Gorgeous Gallery was the least popular of the Elizabethan miscellanies; arguing that by late 1570s the ballads it collected were outmoded, he suggests the miscellany lost out in competition with Paradise of Dainty Devices, which went into a second edition in 1578 (Rollins, xxiv). However, such an argument does not take into account the continuing popularity of A Handful of Pleasant Delights (1566?; 1584), nor the fact that the miscellany was still well-known in the 1590s – Thomas Nashe, writing of Italy in The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), jested that to describe ‘the rare pleasures of their gardens… were to write a seconde part of the gorgeous gailery of gallant inuentions’; Thomas Dekker in Satirio-mastix (1602) similarly alluded to the miscellany as a synonym for popular poetry.

According to an entry in the Stationers’ Register, the volume was ‘collected together by R Williams’. This figure has not been identified, and is possibly the soldier and author Sir Roger Williams (1539/40-1595) (ODNB). The ‘T. P.’ whose initials appear on the volume’s title-page has been identified as the Thomas Proctor, who was made free of the Stationers’ Company in 1584 and who composed the section of verses, ‘Pretty pamphlets, by T. Proctor’ (ODNB). Proctor was apprenticed to John Allde, along with Anthony Munday, who supplied the commendatory verse to A Gorgeous Gallery. It is likely that Proctor completed work begun by Owen Royden, who composed the volume’s address ‘to the curious company of Sycophantes’ and was possibly the son of the poet Matthew Roydon (Rollins, xix-xxi). The numerous borrowings and recastings of ballads taken from Handful and Paradise in Gorgeous Gallery was no doubt made possible by Jones as the printer of all three miscellanies. Other poems in A Gorgeous Gallery were borrowed from Tottel. The miscellany includes examples of poems on many of the most popular topics in Elizabethan lyric poetry, including love laments, the imminence of death, and the falsity of friends, and closes with an elegy on William Griffith, said to be written by a ‘gentlewoman’, which has been attributed to Isabella Whitney. It contains a remarkable diversity of rhyme schemes and metrical forms.

Copies of A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions (1578) are held in the Bodleian Library, the British Library, and St Hugh’s College Library, Oxford. The text that provides the basis of this critical edition is held in the Bodleian Library.

Further Reading

Robert J. Fehrenbach, ‘Isabella Whitney (fl. 1565-75) and the Popular Miscellanies of Richard Jones’, Cahiers Elisabethains: Late Medieval and Renaissance Studies 19 (1981), 85-87.

Kirk Melnikoff, ‘Richard Jones (fl. 1564-1613): Elizabethan Printer, Bookseller and Publisher’, Analytical & Enumerative Bibliography 12 (2001), 153-84.

Kirk Melnikoff, ‘Jones’s Pen and Marlowe’s Socks: Richard Jones, Print Culture, and the Beginnings of English Dramatic Literature’, Studies in Philology, 102 (2005), 184-209.

Eric Nebeker, ‘Broadside Ballads, Miscellanies, and the Lyric in Print’, ELH, 76 (2009), 989-1013.

Hyder E. Rollins ed., A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions (1578) (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1926)

D. J. B. Trim, ‘Williams, Sir Roger (1539/40–1595)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29543]