This concise introduction to the literature of an exciting and influential period opens with an overview of the historical and cultural context in which English Renaissance literature was produced, and a discussion of its contemporary and subsequent critical reception. The following chapters survey the major Renaissance genres of drama, poetry and prose. Each chapter provides illustrative case studies of canonical and non-canonical key texts by authors such as William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, Sir Philip Sidney, John Donne, Aemilia Lanyer, Sir Francis Bacon, Thomas Nashe, and Lady Mary Wroth. A guide to further reading accompanies each chapter, complemented by a section of student resources at the end of the book. The final chapter summarises significant developments in English Renaissance literary culture, and discusses the future direction of Renaissance literary scholarship. Key Features *Detailed readings of Spenser's The Faerie Queene, Milton's 'Lycidas', Sidney's Astrophil and Stella, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Venus and Adonis and Hamlet, Marlowe's Tamburlaine, Jonson's The Alchemist, Lanyer's 'The Description of Cookham', Bacon's Essays, Donne's sermons, Nashe's The Unfortunate Traveller and Wroth's The Countess of Montgomery's Urania *A broad overview of Renaissance literature and the context in which it was produced *An accessible introduction to Renaissance literary criticism, including past and present debates about the Renaissance 'canon' *A variety of study aids, including end-of-chapter summaries of key points, a glossary of literary and historical terms, a chronology, advice on essay writing, sample essay questions and plans, and a guide to further reading and electronic research resources.