‘I will keep and character that name’: Dramatis Personae Lists in Early Modern Manuscript Plays


  • Matteo A. Pangallo Harvard University




play manuscripts, play printing, playbooks, dramatis personae, amateur playwrights


W.W. Greg’s claim that manuscript plays containing character lists were intended for publication (print or manuscript) and not playhouse use fails to account for all of the evidence in surviving manuscripts. Instead, as this essay demonstrates, a more significant variable in the inclusion of character lists in manuscript plays is the writer’s professional or amateur status. This article argues that amateur playwrights, influenced by their experiences as readers of printed plays, were more likely than professionals to include the 'readerly' device of a dramatis personae list in their manuscript plays, even in the case of playhouse manuscripts.


Author Biography

Matteo A. Pangallo, Harvard University

Matteo Pangallo (pangallo@fas.harvard.edu) is a junior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. His book, Playwriting Playgoers in Shakespeare’s Theatre, on audience experience and amateur playwriting in Renaissance England, is under review with a scholarly press. His current project examines theatrical failure in the period. Matteo is an editor for the Malone Society, the Oxford Works of Thomas Heywood, the MLA New Variorum Shakespeare, and Digital Renaissance Editions. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous peer-reviewed journals, as well as The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and the Blackwell New Companion to Renaissance Drama.