HM 1341 is listed in the Huntington’s catalogue as an eighteenth-century manuscript of Arden of Faversham; the rest of the manuscript’s varied contents have been left unidentified or misidentified, and the volume as a whole has been misunderstood by scholars focused solely on the Elizabethan drama. It is safe to say that the manuscript has never been properly described. HM 1341 is functionally lost. The systematic misunderstanding of HM 1341 reveals some of the intellectual perils of professional scholarship. It was bibliographers’ expertise, rather than ignorance, that condemned the manuscript to misunderstanding and obscurity. The critical discourse surrounding HM 1341 represents a triumph of sophisticated methodology over the very evidence that the method purports to serve and raises important questions about how professional researchers approach the archives. On a more local level, the unidentified and unexamined “Kentish antiquities” that accompany the play shape its meaning, placing the drama within an ideological historical narrative focused on Roman Catholic grievances. Arden and its companion texts form a Jacobite’s historical reader, primarily but not exclusively focused on Kent. What interests the manuscript’s compiler is Thomas Arden’s role as a purchaser of monastic lands from Faversham Abbey, and his lurid murder can be read as providential retribution. The Jacobite compiler locates recusant meanings in this Elizabethan play.


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pp. 54-72
Launched on MUSE
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