British Library, MS Egerton 1994

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MS. Egerton 1994 is a manuscript collection of English Renaissance plays, now in the Egerton Collection of the British Library. Probably prepared by the actor William Cartwright around 1642, and later presented by him to Dulwich College, the collection contains unique copies of several Elizabethan, Jacobean, and Caroline dramas, including significant works like Edmund Ironside and Thomas of Woodstock.[1][2]

The collection contains fourteen plays and an anonymous masque:

Thomas of Woodstock was one of Shakespeare's sources for his Richard II, and Edmund Ironside has been attributed to Shakespeare by some commentators.

Some of the plays, like The Two Noble Ladies and the two Heywood works, are judged to be autograph scripts, in the handwriting of the authors. (The Escapes of Jupiter consists of excerpts from Heywood's The Golden Age and The Silver Age.) The untitled masque in the collection has strong commonalities with the work of George Chapman; it borrows a long passage from The Tragedy of Byron, suggesting Chapman influence rather than authorship.[7]

The Launching of the Mary is a "first draft, written at different times, with different inks, and on different paper." The play was written at sea, and is "little more or less than a eulogy of the East India Company."[8]

The anonymous works in the collection have been the subject of attribution studies, and disagreements. Dick of Devonshire has been assigned to Davenport, but also to Heywood.


  1. ^ F. S. Boas, Shakespeare and the Universities, Oxford, Basil Blackwell, 1923; pp. 96-110.
  2. ^ Alfred Harbage, "Elizabethan and Seventeenth-Century Play Manuscripts," Papers of the Modern Language Association, Vol. 50 No. 3 (September 1935), pp. 687-99.
  3. ^ Terence P. Logan and Denzell S. Smith, eds., The Later Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1978; pp. 217-19, 233.
  4. ^ Logan and Smith, pp. 213-15.
  5. ^ Logan and Smith, pp. 215-16
  6. ^ Logan and Smith, p. 221.
  7. ^ J. D. Jump, "The Anonymous Masque in MS. Egerton 1994," Review of English Studies, vol. 11 No. 42 (April 1935), pp. 186-91.
  8. ^ Joseph Quincy Adams, Jr., "The Authorship of Two Seventeenth Century Plays," Modern Language Notes, Vol. 22 No. 5 (May 1907), pp. 135-7.