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Archive Reference / Library Class No.D258/67
TitleMasque by William Browne written for the Inner Temple and associated correspondence
Extent13 items
RepositoryDerbyshire Record Office
Archive CreatorGell family of Hopton Hall, Wirksworth
Administrative HistoryWilliam Browne, the second son of Thomas Browne of Great Torrington, was born at Tavistock in Devon in 1591. After leaving Exeter College, Oxford without a degree he entered first Clifford's Inn and then the Inner Temple in November 1611. He immediately began publishing poems; firstly, an elegy on the death of Prince Henry in 1612, followed by pastoral verse in the Spenserian tradition. He wrote the masque Ulysses and Circe for the Inner Temple on 13 January 1614/15, although there is no direct evidence in contemporary financial accounts that it was performed then. Christmas revels were celebrated at the Inner Temple each year for four weeks until Candlemas, 2 February. Masques became popular learned and courtly entertainments from the early years of the seventeenth century and Browne's work is typical of the fashion of the time. Relatively little is known of Browne's later life other than that he lived for a period with the Herbert family at Wilton and moved to West Surrey, his wife's county of origin, dying at Dorking some time after 1640. Well respected by his contemporaries, the poet Michael Drayton referred to Browne as his 'dear companion' and 'bosom friend'

Ulysses and Circe was first published in 1772 from a manuscript in Emmanuel College, Cambridge; it was reprinted in the 2 volume Roxburghe Club edition of Browne's complete works by WC Hazlitt in 1868.

How this copy of the manuscript of Ulysses and Circe came to be in the Gell papers is not known, but 'accounts of monies received from the gentleman of the Inner Temple at Christmas' 1633 also survive (DRO D258/9/8). Gells who were members of the Inner Temple include Anthony Gell, called to the bar in 1558, and Thomas Gell, b. 1620, Recorder and Member of Parliament for Derby, who in addition to his position as an officer in the Parliamentary Army, had an extensive practice as a barrister. Correspondence in D258/67/2 suggests that the manuscript is in the hand of Thomas Gell.
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