About the middle of the 16th century the place of the medieval romance was gradually taken by Italian prose tales or novella which appeared in English translations in large numbers. These tales were novels (though in miniature) not merely in name, but also in their nature.

They were concerned with manners, morals and motives; though there was also enough of incident, sometimes of quite a sensational kind. This novella exercised considerable influence on the pamphlet stories such as Nash’s Jack Wilton or The Unfortunate Traveler as well as on such great Elizabethan works as John Lyly’s Euphuism and Phillip Sidney’s Arcadia.