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This is the first printed edition of a manuscript collection of verse whose importance for an understanding of the culture of Henry VIII's court and women's central role in the exchange and enjoyment of poetry cannot be over-estimated. The manuscript was owned and used by, among others, Lady Margaret Douglas, the King's niece; the Duchess of Richmond, sister of the poet Earl of Surrey; and Mary Shelton, Queen Anne Boleyn's cousin. These women not only collected a unique anthology of the most fashionable poems of the period, but also contributed verses, occasionally of their own composition. This edition modernizes spelling and punctuation, providing an easily readable text, while preserving aspects of the idiosyncratic appearance of the original manuscript. Notes explain unfamiliar words and allusions, and there is a substantial introduction.
"This is an essential volume, and there's no scholar better equipped to edit it than Elizabeth Heale, whose expertise on early women's writing in manuscript is unsurpassed. The Devonshire Manuscript is a vital source of Tudor literary history, illustrating the circulation of lyrics by Tudor poets such as Sir Thomas Wyatt, and offering evidence of collaborative forms of production and circulation that challenge prior assumptions about early forms of authorship, readership, and literary culture more broadly. Yet despite its importance, the Devonshire Manuscript has been all but inaccessible until now. With its extensive notes, thoughtful introduction, and carefully edited text, Heale's edition will be a valuable reference work for scholars as well as an important textbook for students encountering the Devonshire Manuscript for the first time."
- Jennifer Summit, Professor of English, Stanford University
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