“Tom Telltroth” (fl. 1743)

“Tom Telltroth” here is a pseudonym used by an author wishing to remain anonymous. Variations of this pen name are found in numerous sixteenth and seventeenth century texts. The name symbolizes a narrator who claims to speak the truth. In 1600, John Lane took on this persona in Tom Tel-Troths Message, and his pens complaint, which condemns the vices of England and mimics the 1593 anonymous work, Tell-Trothes New Yeares Gift Beeing Robin Good-fellowes newes out of those Counties where inhabited neither Charity nor honesty. The pamphleteer Joseph Swetnam’s The Arraignment of Lewd, Idle, Froward, and Unconstant Women (1615) was written under the pseudonym of “Thomas Tell-Troth” and precipitated debate about womens’ place in England. Later in the century John Oldman’s Tom tell-troth, or, A dialogue between the Devil and the Pope about carrying on the plot (c. 1679), tells of a grand conspiracy against the Protestants. The “Tom Telltroth” of our eighteenth-century poem in The Gentleman’s Magazine (1743) above remains anonymous to this Scavenger.


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