Original ERD - Preface

Compiled by E.C.Cawte, A.Helm & N.Peacock. Online ed.: P.T.Millington

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THIS is the result of several years of work on the 'Mummers' Play' and related performances, although we have discarded the word 'Mummer' because it is only one of many words used, and substituted the term 'English Folk Play'.

We have defined several types of Play, searched books and manuscripts for descriptions, and listed every place which we know had a Play, giving a brief summary of the type of performance in each instance. These places are listed county by county so that areas where the Play has not been recorded are obvious.

Our sources for each location are shown by symbols, usually of four letters [1], and there is a list giving the full details of these sources. Many writers have copied their material from earlier books, so that a well-known account may not be the original, and these secondary references have had to be omitted because of their large number.

In the course of our reading we have drawn some conclusions on the origin and significance of these Plays, and these conclusions with a more detailed account of our methods, are given before the lists. Some specimen texts, exactly reproduced from manuscripts which were previously unpublished, may help to illustrate our points.

We have very carefully checked our material for errors and inconsistencies, but work of this kind can be upset by the misreading of a single letter, and it is possible that some errors remain. For these we apologise, and shall be glad to have them drawn to our notice. [2]

The publication of this Table and Bibliography does not mean the exhaustion of all sources, but merely that our records show no other examples at present. If any others are known to readers we should be glad to hear of them: even during the final typing of this manuscript further examples were made known to us by interested helpers, and we should be grateful if this help could be continued after publication. Only by a concerted effort can the continuing Index be improved and the distribution maps made more reliable. Some time must elapse before all the results are finally assessed.

The reader new to our methods will find five sections: Method, Discussion, List of Places, Texts, and List of Sources, and the parts of these which he may want are given in detail in the list of contents.



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1. The four-letter codes for sources mentioned in this preface - e.g. 'ChaP' for Sir Edmund Chambers' English Folk-Play - have been replaced in this edition with Harvard-style author-year citations - e.g. Chambers (1933).

2. The inevitable errors for which the authors requested corrections were in fact very few in number, and were mostly corrected in the first of Cawte's supplementary lists in Roomer.

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© 2007, E.C.Cawte, N.Peacock & P.Millington ( Rev. 22-Nov-2007