Decoding Misfortunes: Advice to Elizabeth I and Her Subjects




Arthur, Misfortunes of Arthur, Inns of Court, Counsel


This article positions Misfortunes within the context of drama and literature offered as counsel. Such contextualization demonstrates that the play drew upon Senecan drama, mirror for princes texts, and the Inns play Gorboduc in order to more authoritatively offer counsel about counsel itself to Elizabeth I, her court, and readers of the play in print. Considering both Misfortunes’s wider circulation in print and in a recent performance by The Dolphin’s Back, this article argues that the play’s counsel had value beyond its application to the queen. We can fully decode the play’s political messages only by looking across these different contexts.

Author Biography

Lorna Wallace, University of Stirling

Lorna Wallace ( recently completed her PhD in the division of language and literature in the faculty of arts and humanities at University of Stirling.





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