New Contexts for Early Tudor Plays: William Briton, an Early Reader of Gorboduc

  • Laura Estill Texas A&M University
Keywords: Gorboduc, Sackville, Norton, early Tudor drama, manuscripts, commonplace books, commonplacing, dramatic extracts, early modern readers, play reading,


By examining William Briton’s extracts from Gorboduc in the Houghton manuscript (BL Add MS 61822), Estill shows how the political valences of Sackville and Norton’s play changed in relation to the Elizabethan succession crisis. This essay explores the play's afterlife in Briton’s commonplace book, contextualized as both a political guidebook and literary work. Briton’s manuscript offers hitherto overlooked evidence of one early modern reader’s response to Gorboduc. Ultimately, Estill contends that early Tudor drama should be considered in changing historical contexts and not as fixed works tied solely to an original moment of publication and performance.

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