Smith, Walter (DNB00)

SMITH, WALTER (fl. 1525), wrote in verse an account of a roguish adventuress named Edyth, daughter of one John Hankin, and widow of one Thomas Ellys. Smith's work was entitled ‘The Widow Edyth; Twelue merry Gestys of one called Edyth, the lyeng Wydow.’ It was ‘emprinted at London at the sygne of the meremayde at Pollis gate next chepeside by J. Rastell 23 March MvCxxv.’ The printer notes that at the date of publication the heroine was still alive. The work is divided into twelve chapters, each called a ‘mery jeste.’ The coarse tricks which the widow is described as playing on tradesmen, tavern-keepers, and servants of great men, including the bishop of Rochester and Sir Thomas More, are sometimes diverting, but their narrator displays few literary gifts. The work is of the greatest rarity. A copy was noticed in ‘Bibliotheca Smithiana,’ 1686, and in the catalogue of the Harleian collection, but it is doubtful if any now survive. Of a reprint issued by Richard Jones in 1573, two copies are known—one in the Bodleian Library, and the other in the Huth Library. A modern reprint is in W. C. Hazlitt's ‘Old English Jest Books,’ 1864, vol. iii.

[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Dibdin, iii. 87; Collier's Bibliogr. Cat. ii. 357; Hazlitt's Bibliogr. Collections.]

S. L.