“The indispensable link between the earlier Tudor writers and the great Elizabethan and Jacobean writers of English prose” (Ryan, 292). One of the most important literary works of the English Renaissance

Ascham, Roger (1515-1568)

The Schoolemaster. Or, Playne and perfiteway of teaching Children, to understande, write, and speake the Latin toong, but specially purposed for the priuate bringing up of youth in Ientlemen and Noblemens houses: And commodious also for all such as haue forgot the Latin toong, and would, by themselues, without a Schoolemaister, in short time, and with small paines, recouer a sufficient habilitie, to vnderstand, write, and speake Latine. By Roger Ascham.

London: Printed by Abell Ieffes, 1589


Quarto: 18.8 x 13.3 cm [6] 64 lvs. Collation: A2, B-S4

FIFTH EDITION. According to the STC "Day yielded his rights to the Company for the use of the poor 8 Jan. 1584; see Arber II.788." All previous editions were printed by John Day.

A nice copy in 19th c. quarter green calf and marbled boards with light wear. The text is in very nice condition with a few marginal notes in a contemporary hand and a few trivial blemishes. Abel Jeffes’ fine woodcut “bell” device is on the final leaf.

“Between 1563 and the date of his death Ascham found some relief from his cares in the composition of his “Scholemaster”. In 1563, the year of the plague, Ascham dined at Windsor with Sir William Cecil, and among the guests were William Sackville, and his friends Haddon and Astley. After dinner Ascham was informed that certain scholars had run away from Eton for fear of a flogging, and the conversation turned on educational discipline, in which Ascham strongly condemned corporal punishment. Sir Richard Sackville was so impressed with Ascham’s remarks that he offered to educate Ascham’s son with his own under a master instructed in Ascham’s system, and others of the company begged him to write a practical treatise on education. He at once set to work, chiefly with a view to the bringing up of his own children. He freely confessed that his method was borrowed mainly from Sturm and from his old tutor Cheke, who had died in 1557, and whose memory he believed he might best honor by putting posterity in possession of the secrets of his teaching. For five years he was filling in a plan of the work, of which he sent a sketch to Sturm in the last letter he ever wrote, about December 1568. 

“Of the greater portion, which he had then completed, the first book contained, with many autobiographical reminiscences, a general disquisition on education, arguments in favor of alluring a child to learning by gentleness rather than by force, a statement of the evils attendant on foreign travel, and an account of the immoral training acquired by young men at court. The second book detailed Ascham’s method of teaching Latin by means of a double translation which subsequent writers on education have invariably praised. He advised the master in the first place to explain in general terms the meaning of a selected passage, and afterward to let the pupil construe it and parse each word in two successive lessons. After an interval the child was to write out his translation, and after a further interval, was to turn his translation back into Latin. The teacher should then show him how the various constructions employed corresponded with, and were explained by, examples in the grammar book. The first reading book Ascham recommended was Sturm’s selections from Cicero, and the second a play of Terence. The advance to more difficult authors was to be gradual, and the boy was not to attempt to speak Latin until he was master of the grammar. Ascham added remarks on Latin prosody, which he looked forward to seeing adopted in English verse, and criticized the style of many Latin authors. 

“But before the book had gone further, he died. His widow published the ‘Scholemaster’ in 1570 as her husband had left it, adding only a graceful dedication to Sir William Cecil, recently selected chancellor of Cambridge University.” (DNB)

STC 836; Langland to Wither #7; Pforzheimer #16; The printer's device on the final leaf is McKerrow #253; Arber II. 788; Huntington C.L., II; Sinker T.C.C. Cat. No. 672; R.W. Gibson, St. Thomas More: A Preliminary Bibliography of his Works and of Moreana to the Year 1750