Politics, Poetry, and Performance: The Miscellaneous Contents of Arbury Hall MS 414


  • Laura Estill University of Victoria




Arbury Hall MS 414, Newdigate Family, early modern manuscript culture, composite volumes, early modern readers, manuscript circulation, textual transmission, Arbury Plays, contexts for plays in manuscript,


While recent scholarship has focused on the four full-text plays in Arbury Hall MS 414, I concentrate on the manuscript itself and examine the historical and cultural forces that led to its creation. The miscellaneity of this composite volume represents the social and collective nature of textual transmission in the early modern period; Arbury Hall MS 414 offers insight into the Newdigate family as readers, writers, and participants in manuscript culture. Although, at first glance, the disparate texts in this volume seem to be unrelated, I suggest that they are bound by more than their covers: the poems, plays, and prose pieces in this manuscript are also yoked together by their readers’ interests in theatre and politics. This research reveals that the Arbury plays should be read not only in relation to their original composition, but also with regards to later readers from the civil wars to the glorious revolution.