Courtship, Slander, and Treason: Studies of Mary Queen of Scots, the Fourth Duke of Norfolk, and a few of their Contemporaries, 1568–87.

London, 2019.

Royal 8vo (234 x 156 mm), pp. ix, [1 (blank)], 401 [1 (blank)]; with 7 black-and-white illustrations (including frontispiece); burgundy cloth, blocked in gold on spine, printed dust-jacket.


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Courtship, Slander, and Treason presents two independent but complementary studies of episodes in the career of Mary, Queen of Scots after her flight to England in 1568: her ‘forbidden match’ with the ranking English peer Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk, in 1568–72, and her own trial, execution, and funeral in 1586–87.

Not primarily intended as a retelling or latter-day reinterpretation of the fatal events – Norfolk’s execution in 1572 extinguishing the last dukedom of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, and Mary’s the stuff of romance, remonstrance, and furious debate over more than four centuries – these essays are essentially historiographical, for the first time closely examining a range of contemporary printed and manuscript material. Some twenty-five texts are discussed in the first study; full bibliographical and contextual descriptions of the sixteen most significant are provided, incorporating corrections of traditional errors of attribution and dating, some of which have seriously distorted Marian scholarship.

For the second study, more than sixty contemporary manuscript accounts of the events of 1586–87 were examined and analysed, with the aim of establishing proper family relationships amongst them and showing how later scholars have used these sources. Four textual appendices add full transcriptions of hitherto unpublished manuscript material, which may prove useful, or even essential to future Marian scholarship.

‘The ground is well tilled: the stuff of centuries of “romance, remonstrance and debate”. But this book approaches the whole subject from an entirely fresh angle, a historiographical study, for the first time closely examining the contemporary printed and manuscript material, and in the process overturning some assumptions of the standard reference works, such as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the ESTC. ... [The] section on the Duke and Mary ... includes full bibliographical and contextual descriptions of the sixteen most significant texts covering the lead up to, trial and execution of the Duke on 2 June 1576, ... correct[ing] traditional errors of attribution and dating. The codicological study of Mary’s trial and execution at Fotheringay, fourteen years later is equally fascinating, and is a cool exploration of the murky propaganda, recrimination, invective and practised deceit of Elizabethan pamphlet literature. Courtship, Slander and Treason is a fascinating piece of historiographical research, of use to general historians, and especially to those interested in bibliography and textual criticism.’ (John Martin Robinson, The Book Collector)

‘An invaluable reference work for scholars and students in a range of disciplines. ... Historians have long been using most of the texts under scrutiny in this book. The bibliographical and codicological expertise deployed here should help them to achieve greater accuracy in the future.’ (Susan Doran, Reformation)

‘Particularly in the exposition of authorship, [the authors] delineate and often refute attributions proposed by other scholars and canonized by the Revised Short Title Catalogue. ... [As literary critics who] speak of texts scrutinized from different perspectives with measured judgements ... [their] analysis has revealed much to this historian who has strip-mined some of these documents for information.’ (Thomas M. McCoog, Catholic Historical Review)

About the authors:
Arthur Freeman is the author of a critical biography of the playwright Thomas Kyd, other studies of Elizabethan drama, poetry, and popular prose, short lives of Tudor and Stuart ‘eccentrics, exploiters, rogues, and failures’, and historical and descriptive accounts of literary forgery, as well as one pseudonymous biblio-romance, nine collections of verse, and some eighty critical and bibliographical articles.

Janet Ing Freeman has written on Johann Gutenberg, the Chiswick Press, and other bibliographical and historical topics, and is the author of The Postmaster of Ipswich (on the nineteenth-century collector, entrepreneur, and book thief William Stevenson Fitch) and The Epicure’s Almanack, an annotated edition of Ralph Rylance’s pioneering 1815 guidebook to dining and drinking in Regency London.

Together the Freemans have published Anatomy of an Auction (1990, a study of the Foley library of rare books, dispersed in 1919) and a two-volume biography and bibliography of John Payne Collier, the pre-eminent English scholar-forger of Shakespeare (2004, co-winner of the ILAB Bibliography Prize for 2003–06).

ISBN 978-0-9933762-2-1.

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