Paradise of Dainty Devises

The Paradise of Daintie Devises. Containyng sundrie pithie preceptes, learned Counsailes and excellent Inuentions: right pleasant and profitable for al estates Deuised and written for the most parte, by M. Edwardes sometime of her Maiesties Chappell: the rest by sundry learned Gentlemen, both of Honor and Worship, whose names hereafter followe. London, printed by Robert Walde-graue, for Edward White, dwelling neere the little North-doore of Paules Church, at the signe of the Gun. Anno. 1585.


Alongside Tottel’s Miscellany, Paradise of Dainty Devices is the most popular of the Tudor miscellanies, going into at least nine editions over thirty years following its first publication in 1576. Winifred Maynard attributes its popularity and longevity to the miscellany’s success in accommodating a range of tastes and modes of performance, ‘offering not only serious poems for reading alone and ballads to recite or sing, but also poems that composers had made into part-songs, and others that had just been set for the now favoured combination of voice and consort of viols’ (Maynard, 23).

Paradise of Dainty Devices derives from a miscellany compiled by Richard Edwards, poet, dramatist, and music master of the Children of the Chapel from 1561 until his death in 1566. Edwards was well known for his lyrics set to music. Claudius Hollybande’s French language book, The French Schoolmaster, (1573), includes an English to French dialogue that praises Edwards’s songs (Hollybande (1573), 132-34). Since Edwards died ten years before Paradise was published, another editorial hand must have been involved in preparing the volume for the press. It is likely that Henry Disle, the poet-bookseller, who supplied the prefatory epistle and included his own poems in the volume, had a hand in the miscellany’s composition. He may have worked alongside William Hunnis, who had succeeded Edwards as master of the Children of the Chapel, and contributed twelve new poems to the second 1577 edition; Steven May has argued convincingly for Hunnis’s editorial role in the compilation of this edition (May (1975), 63-80).

The collection is dominated by moral poems, philosophical and religious, typically given proverbial titles, such as ‘No pleasure without some pain’ and ‘Who minds to bring his ship to happy shore, Must care to know the laws of wisdom lore’. A number of these moralising poems were sung as ballads and set to the lute or other instruments, including ‘Fair words make fools fain’. Courtly love lyrics, particularly complaints and laments are included, such as ‘The complaint of a lover wearing black and tanny’, (‘A crown of bays shall that man wear’), attributed to ‘E. O.’, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, and Lord Thomas Vaux’s ‘Being disdained, he complaineth’, (‘If friendless faith: if guiltless thought may shield’); both lyrics were set to music, however, only the setting for Vaux’s ‘If friendless faith’ survives. Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions borrows two of its poems from Paradise, a moral poem attributed to Vaux, ‘To seem for to revenge each wrong in hasty wise’, and Jasper Haywood’s love lament, ‘The bitter sweet, that strains my yielded heart’.

Of the nine editions of Paradise of Dainty Devices that have been identified, the first four were ‘imprinted’ by Henry Disle. However, while Disle clearly published and sold the volume, he was not the printer, since his main trade was selling books, typically printed by others, at his shop. The printer of the first 1576 edition was Richard Jones, who worked as a printer and bookseller between 1564 and 1611, and is generally associated with the printing and publishing of ballads and poetical miscellanies (Melnikoff (2001), 156; (2005), 184). Jones also printed A Handful of Pleasants Delights (1566?; 1584) and A Gorgeous Gallery of Gallant Inventions (1578), also included in this edition. A second, now lost edition followed in 1577, which added fourteen new poems, but omitted thirteen – a transcript was made of this edition by William Herbert (1718-95) and is now held in the Bodleian (O: Douce e. 16). It was quickly followed by a third edition in 1578, also printed by Jones, who probably was the printer for the 1577 edition. Two years later, in 1580, a fourth edition appeared which added seven new poems. Disle died between this edition and 1582 when the copyright passed to Timothy Rider, who then transferred his rights in the text to Edward White in 1584. The fifth edition was printed in 1585 by Robert Waldegrave for White, and adds seven new poems. All subsequent editions have the same poems and order. Waldegrave may have also printed the sixth edition in 1590. Smith employed Edward Allde to print the seventh edition of 1596; it is possible that Allde also printed the next two editions of 1600 and 1606 for White, but difficult to determine since the printer’s name is missing from the title-page.

The 1585 edition, which is the last edition to add new poems and sets the order for the subsequent editions, is the basis of this critical edition. A table collating the titles and first-lines of the 1576, 1578, 1580 and 1585 editions is included as a guide to the contents and organisation of the miscellany. Steven May includes a first-line index to the transcription of the lost 1577 edition in his essay on Hunnis.

Further Reading

Arthur Marotti, Manuscript, Print, and the English Renaissance Lyric. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Steven May, ‘William Hunnis and the 1577 Paradise of Dainty Devices‘, Studies in Bibliography, 28 (1975), 63-80.

Steven May, ‘Popularizing Courtly Poetry: Tottel’s Miscellany and Its Progeny’, in Mike Pincombe and Cathy Shrank eds. The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature, 1485-1603. Oxford University Press, 2009, pp. 418-31.

Winifred Maynard, Elizabethan Lyric Poetry and Its Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986.

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

Elizabeth W. Pomeroy, The Elizabethan Miscellanies: Their Development and Conventions. University of California English Studies 36. Berkeley, Los Angeles and London: University of California Press, 1973.