Anonymous: York Cycle of the Mystery Plays

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

It is now nearly impossible to envision the forces that kept the fifty some pageants that make up the large-scale biblical drama known as the York cycle play in more of less continuous production in more or less the same form for over two hundred years. It is equally difficult to comprehend the sheer scale of the production, which in the surviving version runs to over 14,000 lines of Middle English verse, includes over 300 speaking parts, and represents an enormous commitment of time and money by the guilds responsible for its production. Like the other three extant English biblical cycles – Chester, N-Town, and Towneley – the York cycle stands as one of the most important cultural achievements of late medieval England.

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Sponsler, Claire. "York Cycle of the Mystery Plays". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[, accessed 02 July 2015.]