Lunchtime seminar: Hadley-Williams on 17th c manuscript and its verse

Mixed pleasure: A seventeenth-century manuscript and its verse

The collection and use of vivid contemporary evidence of all kinds, so much a part of the method and works of the reformer, John Knox, were practices continued by later historians of religious history. One such gathering of documents, copied and original, is Robert Wodrow’s of the early eighteenth century, now held by the National Library of Scotland. It includes Wod.Fol.VIII, a version of David Calderwood’s History of the Kirk of Scotland, dated 1636. The manuscript also has its own interest, especially for literary scholars. Fourteen short pieces of verse, in either Latin or Scots, are inserted into the prose text. In several cases the poems are well known from their appearances in John Foxe’s Actes, the histories of Knox and Calderwood, and similar works. In Wod.Fol.VIII, however, these versions of known poems have small or more substantive differences, which help to reveal circulation patterns and the evolution in thinking about the issues they address. A few other poems in Wod.Fol.VIII are not known to occur elsewhere. These are here reported, and briefly studied. The paper will discuss the 1636 manuscript, its copyist, and the verse inclusions.

Janet Hadley Williams is Honorary Lecturer, English and Drama, in SLLL, and President of the Sir David Lyndsay Society. For the Association for Scottish Literary Studies she edited Sir David Lyndsay: Selected Poems (2000). She has edited several essay collections, including (with Priscilla Bawcutt), A Companion to Medieval Scottish Poetry (2006), and (with J. Derrick McClure), Fresche fontanis: Studies in the Culture of Medieval and Early Modern Scotland (2013). Her edition for the Scottish Text Society, ‘Duncane Laideus Testament’ and Other Comic Poems in Older Scots, appeared in 2016.

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