Nicholas Udall



Ágnes Juhász-Ormsby, ‘The Books of Nicholas Udall’, N&Q, 254 (December, 2009), 507-12


Autograph Manuscripts and Inscriptions

Only a few examples of Nicholas Udall's handwriting have hitherto come to light. The most important is the autograph English verse ascribed to ‘Vdallus’ and some of the Latin verse in the presentation copy of the verses written by Udall and John Leland to celebrate the Coronation of Anne Boleyn (*UdN 1). The identity of Udall's handwriting here is confirmed by that in the single known letter by him, among the Cotton papers (*UdN 5).

Otherwise Udall's hand is to be found in ownership inscriptions and annotations in some of his recorded books, now widely scattered and not always traceable. The exempla given entries below (*UdN 6-20), which are principally listed in Juhász-Ormsby, are clearly a small fraction of the number of books which he is known to have owned. No doubt other examples will come to light in due course.

Manuscript Copies and Miscellanea

Early manuscript copies of two prose and dramatic works that have been attributed to Udall are extant (UdN 2-3), but, except for an extract from a printed source (UdN 4), there is no manuscript of his most celebrated play, Roister Doister.

Some miscellaneous items not given entries may be mentioned. An early nineteenth-century transcript of a printed exemplum of Thersites (published 1562?), a play that has also been attributed to Udall, is at Yale (Osborn MS d 68). Certain of the Loseley Papers (formerly at Loseley Park, Guildford) which relate to the Office of Revels and to performances arranged by Udall are now in the Folger (MSS L.b.23; L.b.26; L.b.302). An indenture between John Ryther and the money-lender Benjamin Gonson acknowledging that Ryther had handed over 66 bills, including one of Udall's of 5 February [1544/5], was described in Hofman & Freeman's sale catalogue No. 21 (1968), item 83, and is now at Princeton (RTCO1, box 21, fl. 10).

A list of Udall's writings, including works no longer preserved or identified, is supplied in John Bale, Scriptorum illustrium Maioris Brytanniae catalogus (Basle, 1557), p. 717.

Peter Beal