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William Percy's Faery Pastorall: an old spelling edition Fenn, Robert Denzel


William Percy (1573 - 1648) wrote The Faery Pastorall in 1603 with the expectation that it would be performed before King James, probably when the new king visited. Sion House to thank the Earl, Percy's older brother, for assisting James's efforts to succeed Elizabeth on the English throne. The Faery Pastorall is one of five plays Percy wrote between 1601 and 1603, all of which may have been used as part of the Percy family's backing of James's bid for the crown. The plays remain in three separate manuscripts transcribed by Percy himself in his old age. Two of the three documents, Alnwick Castle MS 508 (1644) and Alnwick Castle MS 509 (1646), remain in the Duke of Northumberland's library, and one, the copy text for this edition, Huntington MS HM4 (1647), is in the Huntington Library in California. Although there is no evidence that any of Percy's plays was ever produced, the plays are valuable to theatre historians, because they include many stage directions and full descriptions of the staging and properties that Percy expected to be at his disposal. This edition of The Faery Pastorall includes an introduction which examines Percy's life, the history and description of the manuscripts, the possibility of the play's performance, its structure and themes, sources and analogues, and the stage directions and list of properties. Also included are an old-spelling version of the text complete with textual notes incorporating substantive variations of all three manuscripts, two appendices incorporating valuable material from the manuscripts not included in the play proper, and a full commentary glossing difficult words and passages.

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