Anonymous: Towneley Cycle of the Mystery Plays

(1294 words)
  • Claire Sponsler (University of Iowa )

The Towneley plays, one of four more or less complete extant Middle English biblical cycles – the others being the York, Chester, and N-Town plays – survive in a single manuscript, now in the Huntington Library in California. The manuscript dates to the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, although the plays themselves were presumably in performance before that time. The Towneley plays derive their name from the family who acquired the manuscript sometime in the seventeenth century. Since early in the twentieth century, the small town of Wakefield in Yorkshire has been suggested as having been the original home of the cycle in the late medieval period, based on internal references in the plays and on historical records …

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Sponsler, Claire. "Towneley Cycle of the Mystery Plays". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 09 December 2004
[, accessed 07 July 2015.]