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The Progresses


The principal outcome of the John Nichols project is a new, old-spelling edition of John Nichols’ The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth I (London: John Nichols, 1788-1823). The new edition will be published in four volumes by OUP in 2007. The Progresses is a chronological, day-by-day account of the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The account takes the form of a unique collection of early modern source materials, which the printer and antiquarian John Nichols (1745-1826) used to illustrate the life and times of Queen Elizabeth I, her court, courtiers and subjects. It is structured by a narrative of the two sets of annual progresses undertaken by Queen Elizabeth I: the ‘summer progresses,’ when Elizabeth travelled throughout southern England and the Midlands, visiting cities as far a-field as Bristol, Coventry, Norwich and Southampton; and the ‘winter progresses,’ when Elizabeth moved between her residences in and about London, including Richmond, Hampton Court and Whitehall. The Progresses has long been an indispensable reference tool for scholars working on the Elizabethan court and culture, in a variety of disciplines – despite the serious limitations of a scholarly edition now two centuries old.

The First and Second Editions of The Progresses

The Progresses … of Queen Elizabeth I was published in two editions. The first edition appeared in four volumes between 1788 and 1821; the second edition was published in three volumes in 1823. A ‘third edition’ of the Progresses has recently been discovered by Julian Pooley (Surrey History Centre), a member of the project’s Steering Committee and co-ordinator of the Nichols Archives Project. This ‘third edition’ takes the form of a second edition of The Progresses, complete with annotations and inter-leaved material entered by various members of the Nichols family in the period c. 1823-1840. The first edition of the Progresses also contains a great deal of important early modern material omitted from the second edition. A large proportion of this omitted material consists of otherwise unedited and/or unpublished material, including a set of orations delivered by Eton scholars before the Queen (1563); John Leslie’s Oratio (1574); Gabriel Harvey’s Gratulationum Valdinensium (1578); and the Oxford and Cambridge verses on the death of Queen Elizabeth 1 (1603). After extensive consultation with early modernists working in a variety of disciplines, we will be bringing together all three editions, to create a ‘definitive’ edition of the Elizabethan Progresses. We will be using the second edition of the Progresses as our ‘copy-text,’ and introducing additional material from the first and third editions into Nichols’ narrative at appropriate places in accordance with chronological order.


This will make our edition of the Progresses the most comprehensive collection of early modern texts pertaining to the court and culture of Queen Elizabeth I. The catalogue of contents lists major entertainment texts (such as the entertainments at Kenilworth and Woodstock (1575); texts of civic pageants (such as Thomas Churchyard’s and Bernard Garter’s accounts of Elizabeth’s visit to Norwich in 1578); inventories and descriptions of Elizabeth’s visits to private hosts, such as the Cecils at Theobalds, and Archbishop Parker at Lambeth Palace; accounts of the royal household (including a number of the New Year’s gift lists); early modern accounts of places and palaces (such as Paul Hentzner’s Itinerarium); occasional verse (featuring poems by Samuel Daniel, Mary Sidney and Edmund Spenser, and Diana Primrose’s A Chaine of Pearle (1630)); extracts from early modern historical narratives (such as Howes’ continuation of Stow’s Annales, Stow’s Suruay of London, Speed’s History of Great Britaine, and Camden’s Annales); antiquarian histories (such as Strype’s Annales of the Reformation and Burnet’s History of the Reformation); manuscript descriptions of state occasions (such as the trial of Mary Queen of Scots and the funeral of Queen Elizabeth I); personal memoirs (such as those of Robert Carey and John Chamberlain); and the correspondence of Elizabeth’s courtiers, including William Cecil, Gilbert Talbot, and Anthony Bacon.

Editorial Method

This will be an old-spelling critical edition of the early modern and antiquarian documents edited by Nichols. We will adhere to Nichols’ selection and (unless it is found to be chronologically inaccurate) ordering of texts but, in each instance, we will return to the most authoritative early modern and antiquarian source or sources (whether printed books or manuscripts) and edit them afresh. Where it is deemed appropriate, the various editions of a printed book, or the extant copies of a particular manuscript, will be collated, and collation notes provided. While our priority is to provide authoritative editions of Nichols’ early modern materials, we will supplement the texts with brief but informative editorial, contextual and bibliographic footnotes: obscure terms will be glossed, with examples of usage; historical events and individuals will be identified; pertinent details concerning the appearance of a manuscript or printed book will be noted; full details of provenance and location will be provided; and the reader will be directed to any other relevant primary sources omitted by Nichols, and to any secondary sources, including modern editions. Historical, literary, political, art historical, topographical and biographical sources, whether early modern or antiquarian, will receive consistent and rigorous editorial treatment. The emphasis is upon providing an authoritative collection of source materials for early modernists as a gateway and a tool for further research. For a more detailed explanation of editorial method, please consult the full Editorial Guidelines. To demonstrate how the Editorial Guidelines work in practice, three sets of Editorial Samples have been prepared.

Editorial Team

Editorial work is overseen by Dr Elizabeth Clarke (director of the Nichols project) and Dr Jayne Archer (former Research Fellow), and in consultation with the Steering Committee. For the purposes of editing the Progresses, Nichols’ text has been sub-divided into 74 thematic units, or text sections. These text sections, which vary considerably in length, have been assigned to a team of specialist editors. In addition to these editors, we have a team of translators and advisors. This team is supported by two Research Fellows based at Warwick: Dr Elizabeth Goldring and Dr Faith Eales. As well as offering support to the editorial team, the Research Fellows check the work of section editors and translators, compile indexes, obtain rights for the reproduction of illustrations, and will prepare the final typescript.