Sir Thomas Wyatt



The Poems of Sir Thomas Wiat, ed. A. K. Foxwell, 2 vols (London, 1913).


Richard Harrier, The Canon of Sir Thomas Wyatt's Poetry, (Cambridge, Mass., 1975).


Ruth Hughey, The Arundel Harington Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, 2 vols (Columbus, Ohio, 1960).


Kenneth Muir, Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Liverpool, 1963)

Muir & Thomson

Collected Poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt ed. Kenneth Muir and Patricia Thomson (Liverpool, 1969).


The Works of Henry Howard Earl of Surrey and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, ed. George Frederick Nott, 2 vols (London, 1815-16)


Principal Manuscript Collections

There are five important manuscript collections of poems by Wyatt, or miscellanies with substantial numbers of his poems, one of which is of special significance since it was compiled by the poet himself: They are:

(1) British Library, Egerton MS 2711. The ‘Egerton MS’ of autograph poems by Wyatt.

(2) British Library, Add. MS 17492. The ‘Devonshire MS’.

(3) Trinity College, Dublin, MS 160. The ‘Blage MS’.

(4) The Duke of Norfolk, Arundel Castle, MSS (Special Press), Harrington MS. Temp. Eliz.. The ‘Arundel Harington MS’.

(5) British Library, Add. MS 36529. Another ‘Harington MS’.

These manuscript collections, together with a few early printed texts — notably Richard Tottel's Miscellany, Songes and Sonettes (London, 1557) — are the materials with which Wyatt's modern editors have attempted to establish both canon and text. There is, however, considerable disagreement among scholars over editorial procedures and the interpretation of manuscript sources, as well as over the identification of hands. For contributions to the scholarly debate, in addition to the works cited in the list of abbreviations above, see particularly The Works of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, and of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, ed. George F. Nott, 2 vols (London, 1815-16): Ruth Hughey, ‘The Harington Manuscript at Arundel Castle and Related Documents’, The Library, 4th Ser. 15 (1934-5), 388-444; Raymond Southall, The Nature and Significance of Rhythm in the Poetry of Sir Thomas Wyatt, with transcripts of two principal manuscripts (the Devonshire and Egerton MSS) (unpub. Ph.D. diss., 3 vols, University of Birmingham, 1961); Raymond Southall, The Courtly Maker (Oxford, 1964); Richard Harrier's review of the Muir-Thomson edition, Renaissance Quarterly, 23 (1970), 471-4; H. A. Mason, Editing Wyatt: An Examination of Collected Poems of Sir Thomas Wyatt together with suggestions for an improved edition (Cambridge, 1972); Joost Daalder's review of Mason's book, Essays in Criticism, 23 (1973), 399-413; Sir Thomas Wyatt, Collected Poems, ed. Joost Daalder (London, 1975); H. A. Mason's review of Daalder's edition and Harrier's book (1975), Sewanee Review, 84.ii (1976), 675-83; and Sir Thomas Wyatt, The Complete Poems, ed. R. A. Rebholz (Penguin Books, 1978); and reviewers' correspondence in American Notes & Queries, NS 1/4 (October 1988), 146-52. It should be noted that H. A. Mason (1972), besides discussing certain texts in detail, offers a considerable number of corrections to the texts printed in Muir & Thomson (these corrections are not recorded for each individual poem in the entries below).

The Canon

The Wyatt canon is an especially debatable subject. For instance, Muir & Thomson admit into the canon, on stylistic grounds, a considerable number of poems found only in the Blage MS, whereas Harrier and Daalder are reluctant to accept as Wyatt's any poem not found in the Egerton MS or clearly ascribed to him in other sixteenth-century texts. For present purposes the canon established in Muir & Thomson is accepted, as also the titles and first lines given in that edition. Nevertheless, it is recognised that the canon is far from certain.


The other notable manuscripts associated with Wyatt are his letters, which, besides all else, provide the evidence for the identification of his handwriting in the Egerton MS. Thirty-five letters of Wyatt (not given entries below) are edited in Kenneth Muir, Life and Letters of Sir Thomas Wyatt (Liverpool, 1963). Most of the letters, preserved in the National Archives, Kew, and in the British Library (Harley MSS 78 and 282; Cotton MSS Vespasian C. VII and F. XIII), are autograph. A facsimile of one of the Cotton letters appears in Foxwell (I, after p. 134), and one of the Harley letters is reproduced in Muir (facing p. 101). Contemporary transcripts of certain of Wyatt's letters are preserved in the British Library (Add. MS 5498).

The only letters of Wyatt that were subject to a degree of circulation in manuscript are the two letters to his son from Spain in 1537 (WyT 423-440). They were copied by Thomas Wyatt the younger himself in the Egerton MS (WyT 423, WyT 432).

Miscellaneous Documents

A number of sixteenth and seventeenth-century papers of the Wyatt family, and formerly owned by the Earl of Romney, are now in the British Library, Add. MSS 62135-62138. Apart from an exemplum of an 1869 edition of Wyatt's Poetical Works (Add. MS 62138 C), the only documents which appear to relate to Sir Thomas Wyatt himself are some verses concerning him, an account of his embassy with Sir John Russell, and two contemporary copies (one incomplete) of an anonymous ‘answer unto 2 most lewde and false allegations, the one against Sr Tho: Wiat th' elder, the other against Sr Tho: ye yonger, his sonne, published in a certen slaunderous and seditious Booke, written against the state by [Nicholas] Saunder ye Papist’ (Add. MS 62135, ff. 82r-4r, 148r-99r, 70r-9v, 275r-6r). The complete text of the last item is edited in The Papers of George Wyatt Esquire of Boxley Abbey in the County of Kent, Son and Heir of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Younger, ed. D.M. Loades, Camden Society, 4th Ser. 5 (1968), pp. 181-205.

A few other miscellaneous documents relating to Wyatt are recorded here (WyT 441-446), including a document signed by him and his eloquent defence after his indictment in 1541.

An additional untraced item is a printed exemplum of Songes and Sonettes (London, 1557) (now lost) which contained musical notation written against certain of the poems in a contemporary hand. One of the poems annotated in this way was Wyatt's “If euer man might him auaunt” (Muir & Thomson, pp. 246-7). The volume was once owned by Sir W.W. Wynne, but may have been destroyed with much of the Wynnstay Library in 1858. The musical notation was transcribed in George F. Nott's edition of Songs and Sonnets (1814?), but that edition too was almost totally destroyed by fire and the only extant exemplum known to contain the music is owned by the Duke of Norfolk, Arundel castle (ref. 13C). For this edition, and other exempla of Songes and Sonettes with editors' annotations, see the Introduction to the Earl of Surrey above.

Peter Beal