John Heywood



The Moral Play of Wit and Science and Early Poetical Miscellanies from an Unpublished Manuscript, ed. James Orchard Halliwell [later Halliwell-Phillipps], Shakespeare Society (London, 1848).


John Heywood, Works and Miscellaneous Short Poems, ed. Burton A. Milligan (Urbana, 1956).


Only a very few examples of John Heywood's handwriting survive. The most important are two letters written in his old age to Lord Burghley (*HyJ 21-22). There are also signatures by him on a lease and a will (HyJ 23-24).

Reed believed that these examples showed that the extant manuscript of Heywood's play Wytty and Wytless (HyJ 20) was also in his hand, but in fact a close comparison shows this not to be so, The hand in the latter has peculiar characteristics not shared by Heywood and (less important) his name is also spelled differently from the other signatures.

A few of Heywood's poems and epigrams appear in sixteenth- or seventeenth-century manuscript copies, but since his epigrams were readily available in several printed editions they were not a popular choice for manuscript miscellanies. Of these the most important is British Library Add. MS 15233, a mid-sixteenth-century volume of works by Heywood, John Redford, and others, evidently produced by someone close to the Redford-Heywood circle. It includes a number of poems ascribed to Heywood which were not published in his lifetime, but were first printed in Halliwell (1848).

Heywood's non-dramatic works have been edited in Milligan (1956); various other works have been edited by John S. Farmer in The Dramatic Writings of John Heywood (London, 1905; reprinted 1966) and in The Spider and the Fly (London, 1908; reprinted 1966).

An item not given an entry is a couplet ascribed to ‘Hewodd’ in a miscellany of the 1590s compiled by John Lilliat, now in the Bodleian (MS Rawl. poet. 148, f. 3r). The couplet, which does not appear to be among Heywood's published epigrams, is headed ‘of ffeasters’ and begins ‘One fat feeder, an other feedeth in fine feast’.

Two of Heywood's poems can also be found in a miscellany in the Folger (MS V.a.339, ff. 109r, 118v): A Song in praise of a Ladie (‘Giue place, yea ladies, and be gone’) and “What hart can thynk or toong expres”. The copies are, however, forgeries by J.P. Collier: see Giles E. Dawson, ‘John Payne Collier's Great Forgery’, SB, 24 (1971), 1-26 (p. 4).

Peter Beal