Longleat manuscript

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Titus Andronicus

stage directions

John Dover Wilson (1881—1969) literary scholar and educationist


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A single leaf in the library of the Marquess of Bath at Longleat, signed by Henry Peacham (c.1576–1643), a teacher and artist. Usually dated 1594 or 1595, it bears a transcript of forty lines from various parts of Titus Andronicus and a drawing roughly illustrating the first scene.

The drawing is of exceptional interest as the first illustration to a Shakespeare play. Whether it is based on performance, public or private, is not known. Aaron is shown as a negro; the major characters wear Roman costume, but the attendants are clearly Elizabethan. The manuscript is discussed by, among others, J. Dover Wilson in Shakespeare Survey 1 (1948) and E. M. Watch in his Oxford edition (1984).

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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