Struck by the richness of medieval animal epic on the Continent and its paucity in England until Caxton's translation from the Dutch, the author went in search of iconographic evidence of that epic in pre-Caxton England. His findings constitute a new study of the illustration of English fox lore and Reynard the Fox stories during the Middle Ages. The book also includes a brief survey of developments in post-medieval times.
It emerges that the fictional foxes of England may have descended from French Renarts, who later assimilated traits of Dutch Reinaerts. With over 250 illustrations, many of recently discovered material, the book is divided into sections dealing with typical episodes (e.g. the fox's trial for rape, his "death" and "resurrection") as well as the ongoing fortunes of Wynkyn de Worde's 1495 cycle of woodcuts, which were clearly inspired by those of the Haarlem Master.