This article considers how Thomas Speght's Chaucer editions (1598; 1602) conceive, invite, and influence their readership. Studying the highly wrought forms of the dedicatory epistle to Sir Robert Cecil, the prefatory letter by Francis Beaumont, and the address “To the Readers,” it argues that these paratexts warrant close attention for their treatment of the entangled relationships between editor, patron, and reader. Where prior work has suggested that Speght's audience for the editions was a socially horizontal group and that he only haltingly sought wider publication, this article suggests that the preliminaries perform a multivocal role, poised to readily receive a diffuse readership of both familiar and newer consumers.

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