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During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, England grew from a marginal to a major European power, established overseas settlements, and negotiated the Protestant Reformation. The population burgeoned and became increasingly urban. England also saw the meteoric rise of commercial theatre in London, the creation of a vigorous market for printed texts, and the emergence of writing as a viable profession. Literacy rates exploded, and an increasingly diverse audience encountered a profusion of new textual forms. Media, and literary culture, transformed on a scale that would not happen again until television and the Internet. The twenty innovative contributions in Gathering Force: Early Modern Literature in Transition, 1557–1623 trace ways that five different genres both spurred and responded to change. Chapters explore different facets of lyric poetry, romance, commercial drama, masques and pageants, and non-narrative prose. Exciting and accessible, this volume illuminates the dynamic relationships among the period's social, political, and literary transformations.