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Textual Introduction

1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The Devonshire Manuscript was maintained as an “informal volume” (Remley 1994, 48), or “courtly anthology” (Southall 1964a, 15), most likely circulated amongst a coterie of friends for private use. This small paper volume, bound in quarto, retains its original London binding—an embossed leather capstan design—which dates its production between 1525 and 1559. Internal evidence narrows the dates of composition slightly: the contents of the manuscript suggest that the most intense period of writing and circulation was during the 1530s. The front and back covers are stamped “M.F.” and “S.E.” respectively. In its current state the manuscript contains 114 of its original leaves, nearly half of which are blank, with fragments of what may have served as flyleaves mounted on endpapers (ff. [1] and [94]) added after its acquisition by the British Museum in the mid-nineteenth century. The only visible foliation (ff. 1–96), entered in pencil, was presumably added by the British Museum. There is evidence of a rough repair and rebinding at this time. Although many editors and commentators have relied upon this modern foliation, it was only entered on pages containing text and is therefore an unreliable and inaccurate representation of the manuscript’s physical state. As outlined below, the present edition has adopted a dual system of citation for accuracy and ease of cross-referencing with other studies, providing the reader with references to the accurate foliation followed by the inaccurate modern foliation in square brackets.

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