Who or What is the Wool-Gatherer?

Well, first of all, the Wool-gatherer is Hugh Parry. Welcome to my website. 
I have taught literature courses in adult education for over 30 years. As subsidies were cut and utilitarianism advanced, my teaching opportunities shrank, and finally I decided that it was only possible to provide unaccredited courses, unswamped by bureaucratic paperwork and nonsensical mission statements, by working as a freelance. I now offer a few residential courses, and produce written material which is mailed out to anyone who is interested.
Over a period of nearly 15 years, I have brought out a series of 24 'Wool-gatherers' (magazines containing short articles on miscellaneous topics), various extended essays, and selections from writers who are not well-known or readily accessible. Many of the articles spring from courses which I have taught, but it is not necessary to have attended these; my optimistic belief is that there exists, at least potentially, a substantial minority of people who might be described as ‘general readers’, and that they are hardly being catered for at all these days. I don’t write for academics – I am not one myself. If you are interested in that old and unfashionable pursuit, reading, and are willing to explore the writing of the past, then you should find something that will intrigue or amuse you.

Since I have no immediate plans to produce further 'Wool-gatherers', I have now instituted a 'blog' as a home for short articles, which have appeared at regular intervals, post-Covid. The blog will be found at: 

I have also produced a growing number of booklets under the CreateSpace (now Kindle) imprint which can be ordered from bookshops or from Amazon (links are provided on this website), all but one of which cost less than £5. The purpose of these, too, is to provide an introduction to writers who are, in my view, well worth reading, but who can only be found in expensive scholarly editions or badly-scanned reprints (if at all), and who benefit from being approached (initially at least) in a 'user-friendly' selection, with an informative but unpedantic commentary. Under the same imprint there are now three books in a Shakespeare series entitled 'NABOB' (Not Another Book on the Bard!).

Individual copies of ‘The Wool-gatherer’ may be ordered for £2.50. Other publications as shown below. Prices include postage within the U.K. To buy any of these, please send a cheque payable to D.H. Parry at:

Llanddewi Brefi,
SY25 6SB

Please scroll down this page to see full list of publications.

Click on the links below to see the content of each individual Wool-gatherer or visit the Extracts page to read excerpts:

Wool-gatherer 1 Wool-gatherer 2 Wool-gatherer 3 Wool-gatherer 4 Wool-gatherer 5 Wool-gatherer 6 

Wool-gatherer 7 Wool-gatherer 8 Wool-gatherer 9 Wool-gatherer 10 Wool-gatherer 11 Wool-gatherer 12  

Wool-gatherer 13 Wool-gatherer 14 Wool-gatherer 15 Wool-gatherer 16 Wool-gatherer 17 Wool-gatherer 18

Wool-gatherer 19 Wool-gatherer 20 Wool-gatherer 21 Wool-gatherer 22 Wool-gatherer 23 Wool-gatherer 24



Other publications (see Extracts page to see excerpts from each):

A selection from the full range of poetry by one of the leading poets of his age (he lived from 1563 until 1631), with whole poems or extracts which are particularly entertaining, colourful and approachable, with a running commentary. 304 pages, available as a print-to-order book: click here to order from Amazon (£6.95).

A selection from the varied poetic output of one of Victorian England's most colourful figures. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet: click here to order from Amazon (£4.25).



A selection from the work of the pugnacious, witty 18th century poet, Sarah Fyge, whose couplets were better-organised than her life. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet: click here to order from Amazon (£3.75).


A generous selection of verse and prose by the Scottish 'Spasmodic' poet and essayist (1829-1867). This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet: click here to order from Amazon (£4.95).



An introduction to the work of Matthew Prior (1664-1721), who found time in a high-powered diplomatic career to be one of the leading poets of the age: cynical and witty, but also full of humane good sense. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet: click here to order from Amazon (£4.95).


An introduction to the work of Mary Leapor (1722-46), who in her short life overcame barriers of class and gender to write varied, amusing and endearing poetry. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet: click here to order from Amazon (£4.65).


An introduction to the poetry of Austin Dobson, once a much-loved writer of light verse and now unjustly neglected. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet; click here to order from Amazon (£3.70).


A substantial selection from the work of the lyric poet Roger Frith, who died in 2008. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet; click here to order from Amazon (£4.95).



A pamphlet with an introductory selection of the poet's work. (£2.00)



An introduction to the poetry of Ralph Hodgson (1871-1962), once very popular but now sadly forgotten, with a generous selection of his work. This collection is available as a print-to-order booklet; click here to order from Amazon (£4.25).



A discussion of the topic which gave rise to so much Elizabethan and Jacobean paranoia and cynicism, and turned horns into infallible jokes. This is a print-to-order booklet; click here to order from Amazon (£4.95).


Shakespeare's use of imagery of flow and flood, particularly in rivers, seas, blood and tears. This is a print-to-order booklet; click here to order from Amazon (£4.95).



The contents of the Acting Company's workshop, and how Shakespeare used them. This is a print-to-order book (320 pages); click here to order from Amazon (£6.95).


Shakespeare’s pronouns: an investigation of formal and informal language in King Lear (£2.50).



A selection of extracts from the letters of the rector of East Hendred, Oxfordshire, written between 1753 and 1761 (£2.00).



A selection from the diaries of a 19th century Norfolk parson (£2.00).



Formal and informal language in Much Ado About Nothing. Coupled with 'I am as like to call thee so again', which discusses the same topic in The Merchant of Venice (£2.00).



Short essays on aspects of The Merchant of Venice, including the purpose of the Belmont moonlight scene; echoes of Plutarch; the Jacob theme; Antonio's relationship with Bassanio; and some statistics on the allocation of lines to boy actors in Shakespeare's plays (£2.00).

Some observations on aspiring and apprentice jesters in Shakespeare: Parolles, Jaques, Rosalind and Berowne (£2.00).


Shakespeare’s portrayal of the clergy; plays include Richard II, Henry IV Part Two, Henry V and Henry VIII (£2.00).


Selections from the diaries of the 17th century Essex parson, Ralph Josselin (£2.00).


A collection of miscellaneous 16th and 17th century writing, much of it not easy of access. The writers and topics are as follows:
1. The Bachelor’s Banquet: a pamphlet of 1603 describing the dubious joys of the married state, with vivid portraits of the domestic life of the time (3 extracts).
2. The Anatomy of Abuses: a satire by the puritan Philip Stubbes on the wickedness and folly of the age, which is a treasure trove of details about late 16th century social life, especially clothes and folklore (several short extracts); followed by a brief glimpse of Stubbes’s tribute to his dead wife, A Crystal Glass for Christian Women.
3. A short pamphlet about the Sussex Dragon, which was making a nuisance of itself around Horsham in 1614.
4. Some incidents from The History of Tom Thumb.
5. Examples of different styles of writing in the ‘Character’ genre, including essays on ‘A Tailor’, ‘An Improvident Young Gallant’ and ‘A Fair and Happy Milkmaid’.
6. A selection of extracts relating to the taking of tobacco in the 16th and 17th centuries.
7. Some handy hints from a compendium called A Thousand Notable Things.
8. Extracts from An Apology for Actors by the prolific playwright, Thomas Heywood, countering puritan propaganda against the theatres.
9. An account of the fire of 1561 which damaged St Paul’s.
10. Extracts from A Declaration of Egregious Popish Impostures by the future Archbishop of York, Samuel Harsnet, an exposure of the fraud behind Catholic claims of success in performing exorcisms; a work which influenced Shakespeare and left its mark clearly on King Lear. Harsnet used a great many theatrical analogies.
11. A passage from Second Fruits by John Florio, a manual to teach Italian which, like most text-books of the time, invents dialogues of daily life given in English and the foreign language, arranged on facing pages.
12. Extracts from the diary of the London merchant, Henry Machyn, between 1550 and 1563.
13. A pamphlet describing the murder of a goldsmith by his wife and her lover, and their subsequent arrest; possibly by the playwright Thomas Kyd.
14. A selection of stories from the jest-book A Hundred Merry Tales, referred to by Shakespeare.
15. A selection of epigrams by Thomas Bastard, from his book Chrestoleros.
Each section has an introduction and, where appropriate, notes and a glossary.

THE LOTTERY OF 1608  (£3.00)

 A second collection of miscellaneous 16th and 17th century writing. The writers and topics are as follows:

1.   The Lottery of 1608: an extract from a news pamphlet about a Jacobean lottery.

2.   A verse portrait by Samuel Rowlands of a lout about Town.

3.   God’s Tokens: anecdotes by Thomas Dekker, showing the paranoia rampant in time of plague.

4.   The London authorities take measures to control the spread of the plague.

5.   The pamphleteer Nicholas Breton is unimpressed by the calibre of the human species.

6.   The poet Thomas Randolph indulges a sensual fantasy, and gets mileage from a lost finger.

7.   An extract from a pamphlet reporting on the execution of the Gunpowder Plotters.

8.   The Life and Pranks of Long Meg of Westminster: a ‘ladette’ from Lancashire.

9.   Robert Dallington makes some observations in 1604 on the French character.

10.  Some extracts from the ‘Parnassus Plays’, including a humiliating bid for artistic patronage.

11.  Will Kemp the comedian dances from London to Norwich in 1600.

12.  Versified agricultural advice from Thomas Tusser.

13.  Claudius Holyband the French master takes us into an Elizabethan school-room.

14.  Extracts from ‘Kind Heart’s Dream’ by Thomas Chettle (1592): professional trickery.

15.  Some anecdotes from a jest-book based on the actor, Richard Tarlton.

16.  The vogue for nonsense writing.

17.  Thomas Coryate shares his observations on travelling through Europe.

Each section has an introduction and, where appropriate, notes and a glossary.



A third collection of miscellaneous 16th and 17th century writing. Writers and topics as follows:
1.   A widow, a wife and a maid settle down to a drinking session in Samuel Rowlands' poem.
2.   Jest-book quips and stories, scattered throughout the pamphlet.
3.   The Great Frost of 1608.
4.   John Taylor describes the goings-on during Shrove Tuesday and Lent.
5.   Jacobean life through the different hours and seasons, according to Nicholas Breton.
6.   Marocco the talking horse casts a satirical eye on human corruption.
7.   Tales of a soft-hearted, humorous highwayman.
8.   How to be a King, by the current incumbent.
9.   The short sword versus the rapier.
10.  Escaping from plague-stricken London.
11.  A collection of 'natural' fool-jesters.
12.  Hard-to-please patrons of the theatre in a dramatic prologue.
13.  Puttenham's advice on cultivating the poetic art.
14.  A recipe for rabbit.
15.  'Silver-tongued' Smith preaches a sermon on Jonah.
16.  The adventures of Tom a Lincoln, a bastard son of King Arthur.
17.  A J.P. interviews some vagabond passers-by.
18.  Thomas Dekker reports from a debtors' prison.
19.  A broadside against bishops by Martin Marprelate.
20.  An unofficial ambassador to Persia.
21.  Everyday situations for the language learner.

An introduction to the lively, witty and highly idiosyncratic poetry of James Henry, a distinguished Irish doctor and scholar whose verse was virtually unknown in his day but who is beginning now to be appreciated for his distinctive literary approach (£2.50).


A selection from the poetry of Robert Bloomfield, who achieved a brief spell of fame with ‘The Farmer’s Boy’ in 1800, but died in poverty and neglect (£2.00).



A selection of 17th century broadsides from the Pepys Collection which relate to the theatre world of the age, with notes, and an appendix of illustrative woodcuts (56 pp., £3.00).


The 'moral' world of Webster's spectacular, intricate and blood-soaked play (£2.00).


One representative sonnet by more than 70 poets, from the 16th century to the present day, with introductory notes (£3.00).

The forces behind the Olympian gods in Greek drama (£2.00).