William Percy's Aphrodysial: An Old Spelling Edition
Fenn, Robert (Robin) Denzel
Willam Percy (1573-1648) wrote f'ive of his six plays between 1601 and 1603. The last play was written in 1632, the year his nephew Algernon became the tenth Earl of Northumberland. In Queen Elizabeth's last years, Percy's brother Henry was working to guarantee the accession of James VI of Scotland to the British throne. Percy's early dramas may very well have bean performed in entertainments given by the Earl of Northumberland in an attempt to gain political favour and influence, and thereby to advance his political agenda. .The Aphrodysial, written in 1602, was part of this group and could have been used in this manner. The Aphrodysial appears 1n two autoqraph manuscripts, Alnwick Castle MS 509 (1646) and Huntington Library MS HM4 (1647), but not in an earlier version of the plays, Alnwick Castle MS 508 ( 1644.). The present edition is an old spelling edition and takes HM4 as its copy text· 509 has been used to emend obvious mistakes in HM4, and a full list of substantive variants has been. provided. The introduction to the work contains a brief biography of Percy's life, a description of the manuscripts and their history, a short critical note, and a description of the editorial method used.