¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Despite growing scholarly interest in the Devonshire Manuscript (BL MS Add. 17492), a verse miscellany belonging to the 1530s and early 1540s, there have been no authoritative critical editions published to date. Earlier scholarship privileged the Devonshire Manuscript (conventionally referred to as sigil D in most scholarly apparatus) in relation to the canon of Sir Thomas Wyatt, since 129 of the 185 items of verse (complete poems and fragments) contained in the miscellany have been attributed to him. These verses, in turn, have been transcribed and published by A. K. Foxwell, Kenneth Muir, and Patricia Thomson in their respective editions of Wyatt’s poetry. However, as Arthur F. Marotti has argued, the “author-centered focus” of these editions “distorts [the] character” of the Devonshire Manuscript in two ways: “first, it unjustifiably draws the work of other writers into the Wyatt canon, and, second, it prevents an appreciation of the collection as a document illustrating some of the uses of lyric verse within an actual social environment” (1995, 40).
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The Devonshire Manuscript is much more than an important witness in the Wyatt canon; it is also, in the estimation of Colin Burrow, “the richest surviving record of early Tudor poetry and of the literary activities of 16th-century women” (2009, 3,5). The present edition seeks to publish the contents of the manuscript in their entirety, to move beyond the limitations of an author-centered focus on Wyatt’s contributions in isolation, and to concentrate on the social, literary, and historical contexts in which the volume is situated as a unified whole. In doing so, we are mindful of Marotti’s assertion that “literary production, reproduction, and reception are all socially mediated, the resulting texts demanding attention in their own right and not just as legitimate or illegitimate variants from authorial archetypes” (1995, 212). A concomitant aim of the present edition, therefore, is to preserve the socially mediated textual and extra-textual elements of the manuscript that have been elided in previous transcriptions. These “paratexts” make significant contributions to the meaning and appreciation of the manuscript miscellany and its constituent parts: annotations, glosses, names, ciphers, and various jottings; the telling proximity of one work and another; significant gatherings of materials; illustrations entered into the manuscript alongside the text; and so forth. To accomplish these goals, the present edition has been prepared as a diplomatic transcription of the Devonshire Manuscript with extensive scholarly apparatus.