Underemployed Elizabethans: Gabriel Harvey and Thomas Nashe in the Parnassus Plays

  • P. B. Roberts Cardiff University


The Parnassus comedies appeared at Cambridge University between 1598 and 1601. Since they make multiple allusions to topical events, texts, and personalities, scholars have conventionally read them as personal satire, with characters representing luminaries such as the recent Cambridge graduate Thomas Nashe. This article, however, demonstrates that speeches given to several characters in the last two plays are previously untraced quotations from another Cambridge alumnus, Nashe’s antagonist Gabriel Harvey. While the plays evoke Harvey and Nashe, they do this because the two men’s post-Cambridge experiences illustrate the plays’ theme, the struggles of the scholar in the late-Elizabethan world.

Author Biography

P. B. Roberts, Cardiff University

P.B. Roberts (peterbrynmorroberts@hotmail.com) recently completed his doctoral thesis, an edition of Gabriel Harvey's anti-Nashe tracts, at Cardiff University. He has published articles on Elizabethan authors including Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Thomas Dekker. His archival work on Harvey will shortly appear in Huntington Library Quarterly.