Lost Playhouse Manuscripts

  • Paul WerstineEmail author
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


W. W. Greg’s teaching that acting companies possessed, in addition to unusable “foul papers,” just single manuscripts of plays called “prompt-books” (censored and licensed by the Master of the Revels and fully regularized and marked up by a bookkeeper) was for a long time and continues to be influential. With this postulation necessarily comes another: that this document in the case of almost every play has been lost. Three or four playhouse manuscripts approximate Greg’s imagining, but most are of a different order. This chapter exhibits the variety of playhouse manuscripts and the likely plurality of such manuscripts for at least some single plays, and thereby postulates other lost manuscripts, insofar as we actually possess only a single playhouse manuscript of any particular play.


Playhouse manuscripts Prompt-books Licensed manuscripts Textual transmission 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.King’s University CollegeLondonCanada

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