Thomas Nashe: Piers Penniless his Supplication to the Devil

(2889 words)

Nashe described Pierce Penilesse as “most saleable”, boasting in 1596 that it had gone through six editions “at the least” (3: 35). It appears that Nashe was, characteristically, exaggerating, since only five early editions are extant (Nashe 1: 140), but the remark testifies both to his pride in being a professional author and to the text’s popularity.


Pierce, the evidently educated narrator, complains, in prose and verse, of his poverty and misery, before bemoaning the neglect of learning in general. Then, hearing of “a certaine blind Retayler called the Divell”, who “would lette one for a neede have a thousand poundes uppon a Statute Merchant of his soule” (Nashe 1: 161), he decides to d…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Roberts, Peter Brynmor. "Piers Penniless his Supplication to the Devil". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 July 2012
[, accessed 01 October 2016.]