The New International Encyclopædia/Nash, Thomas

NASH, Thomas (1567-1601). An English pamphleteer, born at Lowestoft, Suffolk, in 1567. He graduated B.A. from Saint John's College, Cambridge, in 1586; traveled in France and Italy; settled in London as an author in 1588; and died obscurely in 1601. His first publication was a sharp review of the state of letters, prefixed to Greene's Menaphon (1589). It was followed by a pamphlet in similar vein entitled Anatomy of Absurdities (1589). Nash now entered the Martin Marprelate controversy (q.v.), writing abusive satires on the Puritans. He also violently attacked Gabriel Harvey in Have With You to Saffron Walden (1596). Of more general interest are his satirical sketches of contemporary manners: Pierce Penniless, His Supplications to the Devil (1592); The Terrors of the Night (1594); Lenten Stuff (1599); and the picaresque novel called The Unfortunate Traveler, or Jack Wilton (1594). This last work was the sternest piece of realism that had yet appeared in English fiction. Nash also wrote a comedy entitled Summer's Last Will and Testament (printed 1600), and had a hand with Marlowe in The Tragedy of Queen Dido (printed 1594). Nash was given to outright speech and sarcastic mirth. He was well read and avowed himself the disciple of Pietro Aretino. He also knew Brant's Narrenschiff and the works of Rabelais, as well as English poets, such as Surrey and Spenser. Izaak Walton aptly described Nash as “the master of a scoffing, satirical, and merry pen.” Consult his Complete Works, ed. by Grosart (6 vols., London, 1883-85).