¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 These [women writers] desired to doe well, and not to be applauded; to advance vertues, and not to have their names recorded: nor their amiable features with glorious Frontispices impaled. To improve goodnesse by humility, was their highest pitch of glory. This their sundry excellent fancies confirmed; their elegant labours discovered; whereof though many have suffered Oblivion through the injury of time, and want of that incomparable helpe of the Presse, the benefit whereof wee enjoy. (qtd. in Love and Marotti 2002, 63)
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 According to Brathwaite, the paucity of available literary works by women was the result of a number of social and cultural constraints. In contrast to the ‘masculine’ pursuit of literary fame, women were encouraged to practice the ‘feminine’ virtues of modesty and humility. Moreover, access to technologies of writing and publication was strictly regulated in gendered terms—as Jennifer Summit has argued, “while the printing press [brought] men’s works to public attention, it [denied] the same service to women, consigning them instead to the textual obscurity and fragility of the manuscript” (2000, 2). Although Brathwaite’s comments were published almost a century after the compilation of the Devonshire Manuscript, they do highlight a number of pertinent issues for further consideration: the question of text and authorship, the status of women in the production and circulation of literary works, and the material conditions of manuscript and print in early modern England. Recent scholarship has radically challenged the traditionally held notions of what constitutes a ‘text’ and an ‘author.’ The editorial theories championed by D. F. McKenzie and Jerome McGann expanded the notion of textual production beyond a simple consideration of authorial intention. For McGann, these “nonauthorial textual determinants” (1988, 79) should be considered alongside authorial intention to include in our critical gaze “other persons or groups involved in the initial process of production,” the “phases or stages in the initial production process,” and the “materials, means, and modes in the initial productive process” (1988, 82). The programme advocated by McKenzie as “the sociology of texts” further extended this concept of textual production by arguing for the significance of the material form of a text and its ability to affect the text’s meaning (1986).
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 These theories of textual production spurred critics to reevaluate the notion of authorship in order to account for nonauthorial (but nevertheless significant) contributors and collaborators to any given text. It became readily apparent that the modern notion of authorship, with its sense of ownership of and singular control, was anachronistic and particularly unhelpful when dealing with literature of earlier periods. Leah S. Marcus, for example, advocated a process of “unediting, “ a systematic exposition of the various layers of editorial mediation of any given Renaissance text (1996). Critics have also explored the notion of collaborative authorship, especially in relation to Renaissance drama, since the authority of any given play is dispersed amongst an infinite number of collaborations—between author(s) and actor(s), text(s) and performance(s)—and agents involved in processes of mediation, such as revision, adaptation, publication, and preservation.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 At the same time, the work of feminist literary critics and historians to rediscover texts by women and revise the canon of Western literature has also exposed the role of gender in the material and institutional conditions of textual production. To effectively investigate the role of women in the production and circulation of literary works, Margaret J. M. Ezell has persuasively proposed that the definition of “authorship” needs to be reexamined and broadened:
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 We need to think about not only women who wrote and published and got paid for doing so, but also about women who wrote and circulated text socially, women who compiled volumes and managed the preservation and transmission of texts by themselves and by others, women who patronized and supported other writers through their writings, and even those early modern women who owned books and who interwove their own writing into others’ texts. (2002, 79)
¶ 7 Leave a comment on paragraph 7 0 “Compilation,” Elizabeth Clarke has noted, “rather than authorship of the writing in a document,” was the “dominant literary activity among women who could read and write” (2000, 53) in the early modern period. This is certainly true in the case of the Devonshire Manuscript, where women were, for the most part, directly responsible for the compilation of the predominantly male-authored contents of the anthology. Compilation, like any of the other “nonauthorial” textual determinants described above, is an act of mediation: the selection of verses to be recorded, the manner in which they were entered, and their relative position to one another, all contribute to the meaning of the texts, both individually and as a collection. Verses entered into the manuscript may have been selected on the basis of their popularity at court—which might well account for the disproportionate number of Wyatt poems represented—or for more personal reasons; other verses, as recent scholarship has drawn attention to, were not simply selected and copied, but adapted and altered to suit specific needs.
¶ 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0 A pertinent example comes from a series of Middle English verse fragments copied into the Devonshire Manuscript on ff. [89v–92r], fragments extracted from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde and other works attributed to Hoccleve and Roos, all of which were ultimately derived from Thynne’s 1532 edition of Chaucer’s Workes. The inclusion of the Chaucer excerpts prompted John E. Stevens to suggest that these verses were intended for performance at court (1961, 188); however, critics have more recently argued that the fragments are more than simply “remnants of some kind of courtly game or amusement” (Remley, 1994 55). Heale has noted that “many of these stanzas utter with an unusual forcefulness a woman’s view of the dangers and doubleness of male rhetoric,” and may “have been chosen because they give, in forthright fashion, a view of women’s reputations and emotions as vulnerable and easily abused in matters of love” (1995, 306). For example, one of the fragments entered into the manuscript is from Thomas Hoccleve’s Letter of Cupid, his Chaucerian-verse rendering of Christine de Pisan’s original French, which pointedly illustrates “the ease with which the pity and kindness [a] woman may show in response to pleading […] can be turned to her shame” (Heale 1995, 306):
¶ 10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 ys thys afayre avaunte / ys thys honor a man hymselfe accuse thus and diffame ys yt good to confesse hymself a traytour and bryng a woman to sclaundrous name and tell how he her body hath don shame no worshyppe may he thus to hym conquer but great dysclaunder vnto hym and her
¶ 20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 On the next leaf, an excerpt from the Chaucerian poem Remedy of Love has been altered to cast women in a more positive light. Where the original has the misogynistic “the cursydnesss yet and disceyte of women” (f. 336v), the Devonshire Manuscript has “the faythfulnes yet and prayse of women,” rendering the complete stanza as follows:
¶ 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0 yff all the erthe were parchment scrybable spedy for the hande / and all maner wode were hewed and proporcyoned to pennes able al water ynke / in damme or in flode euery man beyng a parfyte scribe & goode the faythfulnes yet and prayse of women cowde not be shewyd by the meane off penne (f. [90r])
¶ 22 Leave a comment on paragraph 22 0 Remley has argued that the selection and careful alteration of these medieval fragments in the Devonshire Manuscript allowed their copyist (whom he asserts is Mary Shelton) to “find a voice for her indignation at the treatment of women of her time by hypocritical lovers” (1994, 56) and that the presence of such alterations suggests that the entries “should not be dismissed as mechanical exercises in transcription punctuated by a few haphazard scrawls,” but rather understood as “a deliberate attempt to recast poetry written by others as a new and proprietary sort of literary text” (1994, 42). Heale, however, has suggested that while “it would be nice to be able to claim that these stanzas were copied by a woman,” that “it is entirely possible that they were noted and copied out by Lord Thomas Howard or by another man,” possibly “to amuse and please their female acquaintances, or as a source for poems of their own” (1995, 307). Moreover, Heale argues that the question is better reframed: “in a system of manuscript copying, appropriation, and adaptation, the question is perhaps less of the name or gender of an originating author,” and more one “of the kinds of voices and gestures the available discourses make possible to copiers and readers of both sexes” (1995, 307).
¶ 23 Leave a comment on paragraph 23 0 In addition to the selection and alteration of verses as outlined above, the proximity of one poem to another is often significant. The epistolary love-poetry exchanged between Lady Margaret Douglas and Lord Thomas Howard, collected and entered as a sequence in the manuscript, has already been discussed in some detail above. Another example of the potential importance of physical proximity between entries in the manuscript is the poem “My ferefull hope from me ys fledd” (f. [7v]), signed “fynys quod n[o]b[od]y,” which is answered by the poem immediately following on the facing leaf, “Yowre ferefull hope cannot prevayle” (f. [8r]), which is in turn signed “fynys quod s[omebody].” While this kind of playful imitation and formal echoing does not rely on the relative proximity of the poems in the manuscript, the effect is immediately apparent and more visually striking when the poems are placed, as they are, on facing leaves.
¶ 24 Leave a comment on paragraph 24 0 The teasing blend of jest and earnestness in this pair of poems—whose authorship remains unattributed—points to the role of much of the content in the manuscript as participating in the courtly “game of love” (Stevens 1961, 154-202). The Devonshire Manuscript was composed entirely by figures associated with the Tudor court, an environment where, as Lawrence Stone has argued, “well-born young persons of both sexes were thrown together away from parental supervision in a situation of considerable freedom as they performed their duties as courtiers, ladies and gentlemen in waiting, tutors and governesses to the children.” Moreover, these aristocratic youths “had a great deal of leisure, and in the enclosed hot-house atmosphere of these great houses, love intrigues flourished as nowhere else” (Stone 1977, 103-104).
¶ 25 Leave a comment on paragraph 25 0 Rather than “a monolithic set of regulations for love affairs” and “a code of behavior solemnly and universally observed,” the ‘game of love’ is a modern term to describe the diverse range of “courtly styles, idioms, and conventions” available “to be read in a range of literal, playful, and ironic ways, depending on the context” (Windeatt 1998, xxiiin13). Since it facilitated the expression of love in a formal and refined manner, poetry, in particular the lyric form, was the field on which much of the courtly ‘game of love’ was played:
¶ 26 Leave a comment on paragraph 26 0 Poetry mattered to the Courtier . . . Poetry was an instrument of social converse and entertainment, sometimes in the form of a masque, sometimes the subject of an informal parlour game or competition of wit. Poetry could be used as a compliment or comment on virtually every happening in life, from birth to death, from the presentation of a gift to the launching of a war; it was the agent of flattery, ego titillation, love-making, condolence. Poetry was the medium of the communication of experience, the means for the resolution of personal syntheses and the expression of personal analyses. (Saunders 1951a, 509, emphasis original)
¶ 27 Leave a comment on paragraph 27 0 Julia Boffey has suggested, as the Devonshire Manuscript was “passed around” among the “men and women whose amorous relationships in ‘real life’ are partially documented,” that “it is hardly surprising that they chose for the most part to copy into it lyrics on the subject of love” (1985, 8). For those aristocratic youths so inclined, collecting courtly lyrics was “a literary and social parlour game with strong erotic undertones,” since the compilation and circulation of verse miscellanies such as the Devonshire Manuscript, “just like the autograph book circulated in Jane Austen’s Emma,” could be “used as tools of courtship” (Rogers 2006, 8). Verse writing, then, was “accounted a central grace of courting,” but women participating in the ‘game of love’ faced social restraints that placed them in a potentially awkward situation. On the one hand, direct engagement in such “courtly repartee” could be perceived as a violation of Christian moral codes in which “a woman’s chastity was closely aligned with her silence and self-effacement” (Heale 1998, 40-41). On the other hand, as Ann Rosalind Jones has observed, the prescribed social role of women at court required each “to be a member of the chorus prompting men to bravery in tournaments and eloquence in conversation . . . to be a witty and informed participant in dialogues whose subject was most often love” (1987, 43). Courtly women were not only expected to actively participate, but also, as Bates has argued, to perform the role of arbiter: in the ‘game of love,’ where “a whole field of action becomes a tableau of encrypted signs to be read . . . the point of the game is to keep everyone guessing, and . . . the question of whether and what things mean is ultimately in the arbitration of the woman” (2007, 38).
¶ 28 Leave a comment on paragraph 28 0 Contemporary conduct manuals recognized the precarious position in which such disparate social expectations placed courtly women. In Baldassarre Castiglione’s The Courtier, a manual contrived to “shape in woordes a good Courtyer,” women are advised to achieve a balance within the prescribed limits:
¶ 29 Leave a comment on paragraph 29 0 Accompaniyng with sober and quiet maners and with the honestye that must alwayes be a stay to all her deedes, a readie liuelines of wit, wherby she may declare herselfe far wide from all dulnesse: but with such a kinde of goodnes, that she may be esteamed no lesse chaste, wise and courteise, then pleasant, feat conceited & sobre: & therfore must she kepe a certein meane very hard, & (in a maner) diriued of contrarie matters, and come iust to certein limites, but not passe them. (1561, C1r, 2B3v)
¶ 30 Leave a comment on paragraph 30 0 The desire on the part of courtly women to maintain this “certein meane” whilst treading the “dangerous tightrope . . . between wit and scandal” (Heale 1998, 41), coupled with the “relative privacy of manuscript transmission and the relative hostility of print culture to women’s writing,” surely “affected women’s choice of the manuscript medium of communication” (Marotti 1995, 61). To avoid what J. W. Saunders influentially termed “the stigma of print” (1951) courtly women writers “shared the prejudices towards print of their male counterparts” (O’Callaghan 2000, 83) and found in manuscript publication an attractive alternative, on account of its “social status, its personal appeal, relative privacy, freedom from government control, its cheapness, and its ability to make works quickly available to a select audience” (Woudhuysen 1996, 15).
¶ 31 Leave a comment on paragraph 31 0 Although manuscript publication potentially offered a greater degree of privacy and control over circulation than print, “it would be misleading,” Michelle O’Callaghan has suggested, “to distinguish between the two by confining manuscript publication to a private sphere and reserving the public sphere for print” (2000, 83). Edith Snook has noted that “manuscripts were not always absolutely private,” and that “textual exchange of handwritten texts could constitute an important part of social relationships” (2005, 146). Similarly, Ezell has argued that “once we leave behind the notion of authorship as an act defined by solitary alienation and the text as an isolated literary landmark,” we can better appreciate “writing for women and men” as both “a social activity as well as a means of private consolation” (2002, 92). Moreover, on this “vexed question of distinction between public and private,” Clarke has asserted that “manuscript writing in the early modern period cannot possibly be labeled private,” since “scribal publication continued to be an important social and political phenomenon alongside print culture well into the seventeenth century” (2000, 57-58).
¶ 32 Leave a comment on paragraph 32 0 “Poems produced within a manuscript culture,” O’Callaghan has argued, “actively participate in the social world in which they were produced and retain the impression of this environment” (2000, 83). The Devonshire Manuscript certainly evinces its origins and circulation within the early Tudor court of Henry VIII, a body that was profoundly concerned with public and private performances of political loyalty and submission. Oftentimes these ‘performances’ were realized in the form of texts produced especially for circulation at various levels within this specialized economy. As Seth Lerer has argued, “courtly verse” and other “literary products” of the early Tudor period routinely
¶ 33 Leave a comment on paragraph 33 0 expose confusions and conflations among poetry and drama, private letters and public performances . . . . where the private acts itself before a spectatorial community, and where even the King’s chamber or the Queen’s bed could become the stages for the play of service. (1997, 38)
¶ 34 Leave a comment on paragraph 34 0 The Devonshire Manuscript reflects this oscillation between public and private, between personal and communal: Within its pages, the private became public, the public was treated as private, and both were treated as deeply political.
¶ 35 Leave a comment on paragraph 35 0 The production of literature during the Tudor period inescapably possessed a political dimension, as has been well established: “One striking phenomenon about early Tudor literature is that it was almost invariably concerned with politics, either directly or indirectly, and that this political bearing had a major impact on the nature of its literary forms” (Fox 1989, 3). Given that the overwhelming majority “of the writers of this period were courtiers and servants of the crown (or desired to be so), or else were directly affected by decisions taken at court” (ibid., 3), public and private literary production was both implicated within and producing of political context. In place of the direct statement and (possibly) politically charged declarative utterance, literary expression instead tended towards the opposite: “Social codes and political discretion determined that many of the things most writers desired to say could not be said openly, and as a result early Tudor literature is, above all, dramatized and indirect” (ibid., 3). Poetry became yet another venue for the performance of public and private roles within the royal court.
¶ 36 Leave a comment on paragraph 36 0 The circulation of love lyrics produced at court dramatizes the highly unstable division between pubic and private writing. The high dynastic stakes involved in the “literary and social parlour game” (Rogers 2006, 8) of which erotically-charged courtly love lyrics were a vital constitutive element especially encouraged the courtier-poet “to be ‘covert’ and ‘secree’—in a word, to ‘dissimulate’” (Stevens 1961, 216). Stevens, for example, highlights the motivation for the “oblique tone of many courtly love lyrics” as one of “covert communication … or the pretence of it”:
¶ 37 Leave a comment on paragraph 37 0 The courtly love-lyric is, perhaps in essence, an enigma—a riddling, or dark, way of conveying your thoughts to someone who is, or pretends to be, your lover … The lyric, although intended to be read or sung in society, to a present and observing audience, was another gambit of dissimulation. It was a public utterance which had, or pretended to have, a private meaning. (1961, 216)
¶ 38 Leave a comment on paragraph 38 0 Stevens’ example offers a possible context for the appropriation and repurposing of several medieval texts apparent within the Devonshire Manuscript, most noticeably the verses from Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde. As pointed out above, these lines illustrate the fundamentally social nature of the text. They also, however, point to the need for occlusion and strategy within the social context of the Henrican court. Lerer has argued persuasively that these excerpts illustrate how both Thomas Howard and Margaret Douglas were inscribed into the text of the Devonshire Manuscript: “If Thomas Howard represents . . . the Troilan lover, Margaret Douglas had lived as the object of personal desire and political exchange” (1997, 153). In his final analysis of the Devonshire Mansucript, Lerer states that the Chaucerian excerpts
¶ 39 Leave a comment on paragraph 39 0 illustrate the pitfalls of impersonation, the dangers of being inscribed into the narratives of surreptitious love. For Margaret Douglas, and perhaps for Thomas Howard—living on in letters and in poems, transcribed into the accounts of chronicle, examination, and diplomacy—all the earth is, indeed, parchment scribable. (1997, 156-157)
¶ 40 Leave a comment on paragraph 40 0 As the historically recorded aftermath of the Douglas-Howard marriage shows, the necessity for concealment and obfuscation within intra-courtly relations was far from a simple matter of style. The consequences for those who ran afoul of royal will could be dire, and that will was sometimes difficult to discern. For those closest to the King, navigating this treacherous terrain was exceptionally fraught:
¶ 41 Leave a comment on paragraph 41 0 To achieve a stable relationship with a master like Henry VIII was not easy: ‘Ricco, feroce et cupido di gloria’ [rich, fierce, and greedy for glory], as Niccolò Machiavelli had described the English king, he was capable alike of wrath and benign forgiveness, of diabolical cunning and childlike niaveté. (Narasingha 2001, 20)
¶ 42 Leave a comment on paragraph 42 0 A great deal of this “diabolical cunning,” it can be presumed, was oriented inwards towards the court itself. John Archer has pointed out that nowhere was political maneuvering more vital than “at the court of one’s own prince, who created and encouraged differences and jealousies among his servants, differences that he observed, and that caused them to watch each other in turn” (1993, 8). The Howard-Douglas marriage discovery, by its very existence, operates within this context: If the sovereign rules effectively by incessantly and recursively dividing and monitoring the emergence of powerful groups opposed to the throne, then the unknown marriage of Margaret Douglas and Thomas Howard represents a massive failure of the surveillance apparatus. In keeping with the character of the Tudor court, the two were almost immediately framed as a dangerously powerful faction angling for the throne.
¶ 43 Leave a comment on paragraph 43 0 Characterized by Lacey Baldwin Smith as a “baffling composite of shifting silhouette” (1971, 13), Henry VIII occupied the center of an unstable constellation of shifting power relations, personal and political intrigue, and anxieties over a future Tudor dynasty. In a “culture of surveillance that was chiefly defined by life at court,” where both external and internal monitoring were “influenced by practices and habits of thought cultivated at court,” the courtly lyric and the miscellany were both symptomatic of and constitutive of court culture (Archer 1993, 3-4). Both modes of literary communication operated as complex public/private utterances constructed to simultaneously impart and cloud meaning. They represent the courtly environment in microcosm.
¶ 44 Leave a comment on paragraph 44 0 The Devonshire Manuscript, with its collection of courtly lyrics, its pastiche of medieval and contemporary poetry, its density of textual voices, and its often uncertain authorship and attribution, is a powerful example of how textual production and interpretation were foundational to those communicating within the Tudor court. A multivalent text, as Bradley Irish has demonstrated, the “Devonshire MS reflects and refracts the gender dynamics of the contemporary Henrician court” (2011, 81). Contending that the “courtly life had always been a show, and the literature of courtliness has always been appreciated for its arabesques of the deceitful,” Lerer pointedly names the entire apparatus a “book of lies” (1997, 1).
¶ 47 Leave a comment on paragraph 47 0  Representative studies include: Margreta de Grazia and Peter Stallybrass (1993); David Scott Kastan (1996, 2001); Sonia Massai (2007); Jeffrey Masten (1997, 2001); Stephen Orgel (1984, 1994); and W. B. Worthen (1997). See also the many useful essays in A New History of Early English Drama, edited by John D. Cox and Kastan (1997).
¶ 48 Leave a comment on paragraph 48 0  Representative studies include Elaine V. Beilin (1987b); Margaret J. M. Ezell (1993, 1999); Barbara K. Lewalski (1993); Kim Walker (1996); and Wendy Wall (1993). See also the following representative essay collections: The Renaissance Englishwoman in Print: Counterbalancing the Canon, eds. Anne M. Haselkorn and Betty S. Travitsky (1990); Silent but for the Word: Tudor Women as Patrons, Translators, and Writers of Religious Works, ed. Margaret P. Hannay (1985); Teaching Tudor and Stuart Women Writers, eds. Susanne Woods and Hannay (2000); Women and Literature in Britain, 1500–1700, ed. Helen Wilcox (1996); Women, Writing, and the Reproduction of Culture in Tudor and Stuart Britain, eds. Mary E. Burke, Jane Donawerth, Linda L. Dove, and Karen Nelson (2000). Notable editions of early modern women’s writing include Early Modern Women Poets: An Anthology, eds. Jane Stevenson and Peter Davidson (2001); Early Modern Women’s Writing: An Anthology, 1560–1700, ed. Paul Salzman (2000); Female and Male Voices in Early Modern England, eds. Travitsky and Anne Lake Prescott (2000b); Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of Seventeenth Century Women’s Verse, eds. Germaine Greer, Susan Hastings, Jeslyn Medoff, and Melinda Sansone (1988); “Lay By Your Needles Ladies, Take the Pen”: Writing Women in England, 1500–1700, ed. Suzanne Trill, Kate Chedgzoy, and Melanie Osborne (1997); The Paradise of Women: Writings by Englishwomen of the Renaissance, ed. Betty S. Travitsky (1980); Reading Early Modern Women: An Anthology of Texts in Manuscript and Print, 1550–1700, eds. Helen Ostovich et al. (2004); Women Poets of the Renaissance, ed. Marion Wynne-Davies (1998); and Women Writers in Renaissance England, ed. Randall Martin (1997). On women as readers, see Heidi Brayman Hackel, Reading Material in Early Modern England: Print, Gender, and Literacy (2005).
¶ 50 Leave a comment on paragraph 50 0  While Remley argues that Mary Shelton is the copyist of these medieval fragments, the present edition instead concurs with Baron’s findings that the verses were entered by hand TH2, not MS. See the Textual Introduction for a discussion of these and other discrepancies.
¶ 52 Leave a comment on paragraph 52 0  For an important challenge to Saunders’ view, see Steven W. May (1980). As Ezell has suggested, women’s choice of manuscript was not simply an issue of gender, but of class and “conservatism, the preference for an older form of literary transmission which left control of the text in the author’s hand rather than signing it over to the bookseller” (1987, 100). See also Harold Love’s important study, Scribal Publication in Seventeenth-Century England (1993). Love maintains that there were “significant differences between the kinds of community formed by the exchange of manuscript” and those of print, “the most important … that the printed text, being available as an article of commerce, had no easy way of excluding readers” (1993, 183).