The Maitland Quarto Manuscript was compiled in c.1586 in the circle of the Maitland Family of Lethington, East Lothian. It is a highly significant and rich collection of Older Scots poetry. It contains the most complete collection of the poems of Sir Richard Maitland, judge, privy counsellor, and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland under Mary Queen of Scots, together with poems attributed to Maitland's heir, John Maitland of Thirlestane, Chancellor to James VI, and to leading writers and intellectuals, including the king himself, Alexander Montgomerie, and Alexander Arbuthnot. It attests to new developments in Scottish literature in the late sixteenth century by including many unique examples of Calvinist lyric, the earliest known British Country House poem, and Sapphic verse, as well as poems influenced by Italian and French sources. It also provides evidence for the role of women in the composition, collection and copying of Older Scots verse.
This critical edition offers fresh access to the fascinating contents of this important manuscript. It provides an authoritative text, with full modern annotation and glossary. Its introduction and notes address the textual transmission of the poems, and offer detailed contextualization of them in both historical and literary terms.
Joanna Martin is Lecturer in Middle English at the University of Nottingham.