Thomas Sackville, Earl of Dorset


Thomas Sackville's reputation as a poet rests largely on the Induction and Complaint of Buckingham which he contributed to A Myrrour for Magistrates. By good fortune the original manuscript of an enlarged version of this composition survives (*SaT 1). This manuscript can now be supplemented by two other manuscript poems which have come to light in recent years. One is a contemporary copy of the 236-line poem Sacvyles olde age, unknown until 1989 (SaT 1.8). The other, possibly autograph, is a twenty-line elegy On Sir Philip and Sir Thomas Hobby, not seen since J.P. Collier allegedly found it in a ‘friend's portfolio’ in 1849 until it resurfaced, as indeed a genuine manuscript, not one of Collier's forgeries, in 2004 (*SaT 1.5).

Sackville's most celebrated literary work was the tragedy of Gorboduc (1565), the result of a collaboration with Thomas Norton. This is represented below by an eye-witness account of the first performance in 1561-2 (SaT 2.5), besides an extract from a printed source (SaT 2).

Letters and Documents

Many other autograph manuscripts and documents signed by Sackville survive in the form of letters, official papers and signed legal documents, chiefly products of his active political career, which culminated in his advancement to the office of Lord High Treasurer. His miscellaneous papers, not given entries below, can be found chiefly in the British Library (Additional, Cotton, Harley and Lansdowne MSS), in the National Archives, Kew; in the Folger and Pierpont Morgan Libraries; in the Robert H. Taylor Collection at Princeton; in Lambeth Palace (Talbot Papers); in he Free Library of Philadelphia; and in various collections recorded in the HMC reports.

Other documents of Sackville have appeared from time to time in booksellers' and auction catalogues. Some of Sackville's letters are printed in The Works of Thomas Sackville, ed. Reginald W. Sackville-West (London, 1859), and a number are cited in Paul Bacquet, Un contemporain d'Elisabeth I: Thomas Sackville (Geneva, 1966). Sackville's letter to Lord Burghley, 30 November 1586 (Lansdowne MS 50, f. 67r), is reproduced in facsimile in Greg, English Literary Autographs, Plate XXXIII(b), and a facsimile of Sackville's letter to Sir Richard Verney, 6 August 1605, appears in British Literary Manuscripts Series I, ed. Verlyn Klinkenborg et al. (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1981), No. 15.

Peter Beal