Reading List for Whitney's Choice of Emblemes

Bibliography and General Background

For a discussion of the relation of Whitney to Alciato, there are two excellent essays. John Manning, "Whitney's Choice of Emblemes: A Reassessment," Renaissance Studies 4 (1990) 155-200 deals with the background of Whitney's writing. Mary V. Silcox, "'Gleanings Out of Other Mens Harvestes': Alciato in Whitney's A Choice of Emblemes" in Michael Bath, John Manning, and Alan R. Young, eds., The Art of the Emblem: Essays in Honour of Karl Josef Hoeltgen (New York: AMS Press, 1993), 161-200, is a more detailed analysis of Whitney's actual use of Alciato, of the way Whitney shifts the emblems for an English audience.

A fairly recent bibliography for Whitney is found in Peter M. Daly and Mary V. Silcox, The English Emblem: Bibliography of Secondary Literature (Munich: K.G. Saur, 1990), 81-4.

The Manuscripts

For a more detailed analysis of Whitney's borrowings, there is Mason Tung, "Whitney's A Choice of Emblemes Revisited: A Comparative Study of the Manuscript and the Printed Versions," Studies in Bibliography 29 (1976), 32-101, especially 79- 85. The manuscript is Harvard MS Typ. 14, a lovely presentation copy in sepia with a delicate blue wash, prepared for the earl of Leicester in 1585 (Philip Hofer first showed me this copy many years ago during a tour of the stacks at the Houghton). Whitney's printed emblems have marginal notes; the ms does not. And though the printed text is slightly longer than the ms, the ms has 15 emblems not in the printed text.

There is a later manuscript. This is a draft of 126 unillustrated mottoes and poems, and is described in H.H.E. Craster, "The First Draft of Geoffrey Whitney's Emblems (MS. Rawlinson Poetry 56)" Bodleian Library Record 6 (1932) 173ff.

An Index

An index to Whitney is given in Peter M. Daly, et al., The English Emblem Tradition, vol. 1 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988).


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First posted 3 November 1995; revised 1 April 2003