John Lane’s <i>Verball</i>

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In the liminary materials to an anonymously published narrative poem, The First Booke of the Preservation of King Henry the vij (1599&#8211;1600), the author announced a dictionary project, promising &#8211; four years before the publication of Cawdrey&#8217;s Table Alphabeticall &#8211; that he would &#8220;set forth a Verball, or littel Dictionarie, with a Prosodia requisite for Poetry.&#8221; After a brief account of the context in which this promise was made, I will discuss the author&#8217;s identity, which can be narrowed down with some certainty, and established with a high degree of probability, from internal evidence, the likeliest candidate being one John Lane, a member of a well-connected Staffordshire gentry family. I will also discuss the likely form of the dictionary which Lane planned, and suggest why he never completed it.


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