A Seventeenth-Century Manuscript of the Academic Drama Lingua

Jennie Challinor*

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article explores a previously unknown manuscript of the anonymous academic drama Lingua. Housed in the Bridgeman family archives in Staffordshire Record Office, the manuscript is similar but by no means identical to the 1607 printed edition. I examine the manuscript’s possible provenance, its distinctive features and key variants (including its attention to act music), before focusing on two substantial original passages. Both of these episodes demonstrate a clear satirical interest in Wales, recycling as they do various Welsh stereotypes common in professional drama of the early seventeenth century. I argue that these sections—which also bear the mark of an engagement with Spenser and Rabelais—enrich our understanding not only of Lingua but of the links between university drama and wider literary and theatrical cultures. I conclude that these sections are likely authorial, and that Thomas Tomkis (to whom the play is usually attributed) may well have contributed to or overseen the production of the manuscript.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-273
Number of pages20
JournalThe Review of English Studies
Issue number314
Early online date9 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


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