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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: July ::
Roses
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1250  Thursday, 28 July 2005

From:           Richard Kennedy <
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Date:           Monday, 25 Jul 2005 16:33:36 -0700
Subject:        Roses

(Part 1.  This is a continuation of some conversation under the heading
"Help with Sonnets" early this month.)

Martin Green and I have been in email conversation about how Wriothesley
was pronounced. He sent me a copy of his English Studies (April, 2005)
article titled "The Pronunciation of Wriothesley", and thanks again, the
page numbers are noted.

There's almost 30 pages of his work on this, all of it tending that
Rosely is the best bet for Wriothesley, Risley coming in second. He says
that Pollard, Rowse and Stopes were wrong about saying the name as
'Risley,' as Pollard put forth in the DNB. Green remarks that Pollard
"presented no evidence in support of this pronunciation."  Here is evidence:

STC19867 led me to an item that might settle the matter, not just to
take the word of the DNB. It is an epitaph of some 110 lines upon the
death of Henry's father, Lord Henry the 2nd Earl of Southampton.  Within
a decorated border, the poem in black letter, the Earl is honored under
this heading:

"An Epitaph on the death, of the Right honorable and vertuous Lord Henry
WRISLEY, the Noble Earle of Southampton.."  (my caps, RK)

Henry's Wriothesley's father is eulogized, phonetically, as Risley, just
as A.F. Pollard said, which should be good enough for his son as well.
However, Martin Green will endeavor to have it both ways. He writes,
"The correct conclusion. is that the varying spellings of these two
names establish that >>both<< Risely and Wriothesley were pronounced
Rosely." (155)

Green gives us some seventeen pages to prove this out, and convinces me
that dialect is a very difficult study. Yet he doesn't claim to have
proved his case, and the question stands as uncertain as ever,
phonetically speaking.  He writes, ".we have no evidence that
Wriothesley actually was or could have been pronounced Rosely." (138)
He again admits this in his "Conclusions":

"First, it is unlikely that there ever was, at any time, one universally
used pronunciation of Wriothesley." (159)

Green gives more than a hundred examples of how Wriothesley might have
been said by the speaker and heard by the hearer, and therefore set it
down by pen or in print to record the name. Some examples, besides the
familiar spelling of Wriothesley, are Wriesly, Wriseley, Wrisley,
Writesley, Writeouthley, Writehsley, Wyrseley, Woursley, Wrosley,
Wrosthesley, Wroysley, Wreesley, Wreseley, Wrethesley, and many more.
(146) And the question is this: in all these spellings of Wriothesley,
as recorded, and claimed by Green to have been heard as Rosely, why did
no one write it down as Rosely?

Martin Green remarks on the saying and hearing of the name like this:
"It is, therefore, probable that Thomas Risley/Risely/Risely, as well as
his relatives and neighbors (and most of the people of England)
pronounced his name as Roisley, or Rosely."  (151)  But this goes
against his statements that we can't know how Wriothesley was said. Why
such agony in the spelling if the name was clearly heard as Rosely?
Rose is a rose, and everyone who can hold a pen can spell the word, I
suppose it was the same back then, so why did no one write it down as
Rosely?

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