Adding an “Author's Life” <i>Thomas Tusser's Revisions of</i> A Hundreth Good Points of Husbandry <i>(1557–73)</i>

Meredith Anne Skura

in Tudor Autobiography

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9780226761879
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226761886 | DOI:
Adding an “Author's Life” Thomas Tusser's Revisions of A Hundreth Good Points of Husbandry (1557–73)

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Thomas Tusser's metrical guide A Hundreth Good Points of Husbandry (1557) was so popular and so often reprinted that by 1585 it was parodied in (the lost) Five Hundred Points of Evil Husbandry, and it was reissued into the eighteenth century. The wide appeal of books like Tusser's was due in part to the range of miscellaneous material they included, but in the much expanded 1573 Five Hundreth Good Points of Husbandry Tusser added something no husbandry manual had included before: a final thirty-eight stanza autobiographical poem, “Th'author's Life.” Tusser's little poem, tucked away in the back of his farming manual, is unique among extant autobiographies in that the manual's multiple editions suggest traces of Tusser's composition process. This chapter discusses both Tusser's own history and that of the book. It begins with his biography and the importance in it of Tusser's patron, William Paget. It then turns to the book's roots in Tusser's unusual stance between elite and popular traditions, and between his two lives as musician and farmer, moving finally to the “Life” itself.

Keywords: Thomas Tusser; Five Hundreth Good Points of Husbandry; autobiographical poem; composition process; William Paget; husbandry; autobiography

Chapter.  9366 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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