In the editions, spelling and punctuation have been normalised to fit modern conventions. This involves a distinction between [u] and [v], [i] and [j], and the use of capital letters for proper nouns. For clarity and structure, line numbers are added and indentations are placed to indicate a new paragraph. Words and text in brown contain explanatory notes that show on mouseover. Furthermore, the conventional abbreviations of the scribe and printer are expanded without notice. In addition, corrections of scribal errors have been incorporated in the text.
Certayne Bokes – Here After Foloweth Certaine Bokes Compyled by mayster Skelton, Poet Laureat (c. 1545).
DIMEV – Digital Index of Middle English Verse
MED – Middle English Dictionary
ODNB – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
OED – Oxford English Dictionary
SG – Scattergood, John. John Skelton: the Complete English Poems (1983).
S – Sylvester, Richard. The Anchor Book of Sixteenth Century Verse (1974).
STC – Short Title Catalogue (English)
Workes – Pithy Pleasaunt and Profitable Workes of Maister Skelton, Poete Laureate (c. 1568).
How to read John Skelton
Skelton wrote in late Middle English, which is generally understandable to a modern reader. In the editions on this website difficult words are explained in the glosses in the right margin. The letters which are most likely to cause difficulty are listed below.
[e] – a word-final [e] is often silent, depending on the metre. The [e] is also used for modern-day [ea], for instance in hevynesse.
[y] – used both as consonant and vowel, pronounced like [i].
[a] – in Skelton’s dialect, [a] is sometimes used for [o], for instance in nat (not)
[o] – is sometimes used for [u], as in gon (gun)
[i] – is used for [j] but it has been normalised in our editions.
[w] – is often used to lengthen the pronunciation of the previous vowel, in words such as bowge (bouge: mouth), and rewthe (routhe: sorrow).
[l] – is sometimes duplicated after a short vowel, for instance in generall. When a single [l] is used in the source, it has been corrected to double [l] for more consistency.
[th] – this edition does not distinguish between the [th] and old character thorn, which was already used interchangably during Skelton’s time.
[au] – a francophone diphthong used for modern-day [a] in words as perchaunce and straunge.
[x] – also used for [sh], for instance in the verb xall (shall)
For more information on Skelton’s difficult language, you can also visit the page Skelton & Language.