Andrew McRae examines the relation between literature and politics at a pivotal moment in English history. He argues that the most influential and incisive political satire in this period may be found in manuscript libels, scurrilous pamphlets and a range of other material written and circulated under the threat of censorship. These are the unauthorised texts of early Stuart England. From his analysis of these texts, McRae argues that satire, as the pre-eminent literary mode of discrimination and stigmatisation, helped people make sense of the confusing political conditions of the early Stuart era. It did so partly through personal attacks and partly also through sophisticated interventions into ongoing political and ideological debates. In such forms satire provided resources through which contemporary writers could define new models of political identity and construct new discourses of dissent. This book wil be of interest to political and literary historians alike.