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COLLECTION Identifier: MS Eng 1660

Agnes Furnivall transcript copies of old plays


Manuscript transcript copies of pre-Shakespearian plays made by Agnes Furnivall, cousin by marriage to Frederick James Furnivall.


  • Creation: undated

Language of Materials

Collection materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on physical access to this material.

This collection is not housed at the Houghton Library but is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. Retrieval requires advance notice. Readers should check with Houghton Public Services staff to determine what material is offsite and retrieval policies and times.


.5 linear feet (5 volumes in 2 boxes)

Manuscript transcriptions, attributed to Mrs. Furnivall, of various pre-Shakespearian texts of plays. Many texts annotated by John Matthews Manly in preparation for the publication of his 1897 work, Specimens of the pre-Shaksperean drama, with an introd., notes, and a glossary. Each volume includes introductory annotations by Harvard professor, George Lyman Kittredge. Each volume also has a bookplate with text: Child Memorial Library. To Harvard University in memory of Francis James Child first professor of English, and another plate with text: The gift of Prof. John Matthews Manly, University of Chicago. 16 Nov., 1899.

Includes transcript texts for: Macro moralities: Mankind, The salutation and conception, Nice Wanton, Hyckescorner, King Cambises, Gammer Gurtons Needle, Foure PP, and James IV.

Biographical / Historical

Frederick James Furnivall (1825-1910) was an English textual scholar and editor. He married Eleanor Nickel Dalziel (1838?-1937) in 1862, but in 1883 they were legally separated. He never married again, but continued to pursue his open relationship with Mary Lilian ("Teena") Rochfort Smith (1861-1883), a young woman active in several of his literary societies and a transcriber of manuscript works. When she died in 1883 he "managed to surround himself with attractive young women the rest of his life."

These volumes of transcriptions have only been attributed to a "Mrs. Furnivall," but in the foreward to John Matthews Manly's volume Specimens of the pre-Shaksperean drama..., he states that the manuscript transcriptions were made by Mrs. Furnivall, and he names her as Agnes Furnivall. We have been unable to determine who Agnes Furnivall was. As of this date (October 2010) this repository does not know who is responsible for these transcriptions, but we lean toward Teena Smith and await help from readers for confirmation.

Source: William S. Peterson, "Furnivall, Frederick James (1825-1910), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2004 online edition.

Addendum, January 2017: Based on scholarly evidence, the Agnes Furnivall identified by Manley was most probably the wife of Penn Furnivall, cousin to Frederick James Furnivall. Agnes (née Agnes Parker Ackroyd) married Penn in 1873 and was either widowed or abandoned by him. She supported herself and her two daughters by performing transcription work for Manly and other scholars. See curator’s file for further information.

Source: Molly G. Yarn (Lucy Cavendish College, University of Cambridge), email to Leslie Morris (Houghton Library), 14 August 2017.


Arranged in volume order.

Physical Location

Harvard Depository

Immediate Source of Acquisition

94M-57. Transfered from Widener Library (Child Memorial Library); recataloged from: ChM 1220.9, ChM 1220.9.2, ChM 1220.9.3, ChM 1220.9.4, and ChM 1220.9.5; received: 1965 March 11.

Originally a gift to Harvard College Library from Professor John Matthews Manly, University of Chicago; received: 1899 November 16.


See also: John Matthews Manly. Specimens of the pre-Shaksperean drama, with an introd., notes, and a glossary. Boston: Ginn, 1897. Frederick James Furnivall. Teena Rochfort-Smith : a memoir, with three .... England: 1883.
  • John Matthews Manly. Specimens of the pre-Shaksperean drama, with an introd., notes, and a glossary. Boston: Ginn, 1897.
  • Frederick James Furnivall. Teena Rochfort-Smith : a memoir, with three .... England: 1883.

General note

This collection is shelved offsite at the Harvard Depository. See access restrictions below for additional information.

Processing Information

Processed by: Bonnie B. Salt

Furnivall, Agnes, transcriber. Agnes Furnivall transcript copies of old plays, undated: Guide.
Houghton Library, Harvard College Library
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Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Houghton Library Repository

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