Index Britanniae Scriptorum
John Bale (1495-1563) was prior of various Carmelite convents and an early adherent of the Protestant Reformation movement. He was the author of numerous anti-Catholic pamphlets and also wrote 21 dramas, including the first history play in English literature. His five surviving plays show that Protestant propaganda played a major role in these works also.
Of greatest interest for us today are Bale’s antiquarian studies in the history of literature. He published two biographical catalogues of English authors; a third remained in manuscript until 1902 when it was published in the edition reprinted here. This first, rudimentary history of English literature is – despite many inaccuracies – an invaluable source for the study of mediaeval and early Tudor literature.