Thomas Nashe: Piers Penniless his Supplication to the Devil

(3022 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&…

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are not a subscriber, please click here to read about membership. All our articles have been written recently by experts in their field, more than 95% of them university professors.

Roberts, Peter Brynmor. "Piers Penniless his Supplication to the Devil". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 23 July 2012
[, accessed 03 July 2015.]