Thomas Nashe: Nashe's Lenten Stuff

(1925 words)
  • Anthony Ossa-Richardson (Queen Mary, University of London)

Early in his documentary-essay Magnetic North (2008), Jonathan Meades extols the herring as the defining staple of Northern Europe, comparable to the Mediterranean olive, and “infinitely preferable to lobster or sole”. From Arras to Helsinki, a dish of herring with the local tipple punctuates his meander along the coast, leitmotiv as celebration. But Meades was not the first to praise the fish. A stray snippet by John Taylor the Water Poet, four centuries earlier, noted:

Tom Nash a witty pamphlet did endite
In praise of Herrings, both the red and write. (Taylor, sig. Fff2v)

Taylor was here referring, in the course of a long litany of previous mock encomia, to Nashe’s …

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Ossa-Richardson, Anthony. "Nashe's Lenten Stuff". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 July 2014
[, accessed 30 September 2016.]