In short order, Boydell and Brewer will be releasing a book by my old friend, Andrew Taylor. Andy is witty, learned, and an original thinker, and though the book is pricey and not in my usual line of work, I am interested.
Here is some of what B&B has to say:
Richard Sheale, a harper and balladeer from Tamworth, is virtually the only English minstrel whose life story is known to us in any detail. It had been thought that by the sixteenth century minstrels had generally been downgraded to the role of mere jesters. However, through a careful examination of the manuscript which Sheale almost certainly "wrote" (Bodleian Ashmole 48) and other records, the author argues that the oral tradition remained vibrant at this period, contrary to the common idea that print had by this stage destroyed traditional minstrelsy. The author shows that under the patronage of Edward Stanley, earl of Derby, and his son, from one of the most important aristocratic families in England, Sheale recited and collected ballads and travelled to and from London to market them.I know a fair number of people who will also be tempted.