A New Context for the Manuscript of <i>Wit and Science</i>

  • Louise Rayment University of Southampton
Keywords: Wit and Science, John Redford, St. Mary-at-Hill, British Library, Additional Manuscript 15233,


John Redford’s interlude The Play of Wit and Science (ca 1540) is surrounded in British Library Additional Manuscript 15233 by a rarely noted collection of music, poems, and song lyrics by Redford, Richard Edwards, John Thorne, Miles Huggarde, Thomas Pridioxe, Master Knyght, and John Heywood. Scholars have always assumed Redford wrote the play into the manuscript during his time as organist and master of the choirboys at St Paul’s cathedral (ca 1530-47), but new bibliographical evidence indicates that the entire manuscript was in fact compiled and bound during the mid 1550s. By piecing together the connections between the named contributors to Add MS 15233 during the 1550s, this article suggests that a social and artistic network centring on the parish church of St Mary-at-Hill in Billingsgate, London produced this copy of Wit and Science and the manuscript in which it is contained.