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In preparing this volume, primarily intended for college courses in the development of English literature, the editors have tried to give to the most important men a representation more adequate than they have been accorded in previous volumes of the kind, and so comprehensive that whoever uses the book will find a considerable range of possible selection. In addition, the editors have included enough work by men of secondary importance to fill the gaps between the larger figures, and to make this text adequate for any survey of English literature from Chaucer to Meredith, save in the fields of drama and fiction. Fiction has been omitted for obvious reasons. The drama would have been excluded entirely, had it not been felt that some teachers would be glad of a specimen miracle play. An appendix containing brief biographies of the chief men represented, and bibliographical suggestions, may be of assistance to those who desire to use the volume without an accompanying history.
In certain respects the texts here presented have been standardized. Punctuation has been modernized; the spelling -or instead
-or instead of cour for words such as honor, labor, etc., has been adopted; except in a few obvious instances, the full form of the weak past participle in -ed has been used throughout the volume.
The thanks of the editors are due to Professor R. E. Neil Dodge, of the University of Wisconsin, and Houghton Mifflin Company, for permission to use the Cambridge text of Spenser. Stevenson's Aes Triplex is taken from the Thistle edition, published by Charles Scribner's Sons, the authorized publishers of Stevenson's works. The debt of the editors to such standard works as Skeat's Oxford Chaucer, Child's Ballads, and Lucas's Lamb, will be recognized by all who use the book.