The Digby Play of Mary Magdalene
A Broadview Anthology of British Literature Edition
  • Publication Date: November 30, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554814237 / 1554814235
  • 120 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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The Digby Play of Mary Magdalene

A Broadview Anthology of British Literature Edition

  • Publication Date: November 30, 2017
  • ISBN: 9781554814237 / 1554814235
  • 120 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Few medieval plays in English have attracted as much twenty-first-century interest as the Digby Mary Magdalene, an early-fifteenth-century drama that, as Chester Scoville puts it, is “probably the most spectacular of the late medieval English plays.” This new edition presents a modernized text of the play, with extensive annotation (both marginal glosses and explanatory footnotes), an insightful introduction, and a helpful selection of background contextual materials.


“This new Broadview edition makes medieval England’s most extraordinary play accessible to a broader audience. With modernized spelling throughout, brief yet informative notes and glosses, and an introduction that highlights the play’s extravagant dramatic complexity, Scoville’s edition welcomes students into the fascinating world of this text. Material from biblical and hagiographical sources that would have been familiar to both the playwright and his late medieval audience provide further context for understanding the female character at its center, while reproductions of two of the sole surviving manuscript’s pages offer a glimpse of the process by which the script was preserved for future generations. This is an important addition to the Broadview library.” — Joanne Findon, Trent University

“Scoville’s Digby Play of Mary Magdalene offers an accessible and expertly-glossed text in modernized spelling. Its introduction discusses the play’s poetic and thematic features, along with its manuscript history, and provides production information. The explanatory and textual notes and the biblical sources enable undergraduate students to access the greatness and complexity of this play and to join the scholarly conversation about it.” — Frank Napolitano, Radford University

“[The Broadview Mary Magdalene] is a text that reads well, is clear and easy to follow, and reduces the language barrier that many undergraduates find difficult to overcome. Perhaps the most pedagogically valuable part of Scoville’s edition is the ‘In Context’ section, [which]… provides some source material associated with the story of Mary Magdalene, alongside photographic facsimiles and transcriptions of two folios from the Digby manuscript. … Scoville’s edition is valuable and well suited to introducing first-year undergraduates to the play of Mary Magdalene; accessible, affordable, and with basic contextual information, it invites students to engage with this remarkable play without feeling overwhelmed by its strangeness and cultural difference.” — Speculum

“I have seen enough book covers that bear little resemblance to the inside contents to appreciate one that does! But more importantly, the editing of the text is excellent and the apparatus ideal for a student or general audience. … those who choose to read or teach this text will find this edition to be a valuable tool.” — Jenny Rytting, Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching


The Digby Play of Mary Magdalene

In Context

    Source Material

      from the Douay-Rheims Bible

        from Mark 16
        from Luke 7
        from John 11
        from John 20

      from Jacobus de Voragine, Legenda Aurea
      (The Golden Legend )

    The Manuscript

      Folio 95r
      Folio 116r

Chester Scoville is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Toronto.