Seven Problems of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. An Interim Report

Just wondering if any here knew of a link to purchase said article by Elizabeth Cole (1954). I found one for £21 which as well as being pricey for a 14 page read, seems difficult to purchase even if I did have more money than sense.

Also if there’s any other links to essays in reference to the historical context or lack of regarding The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book, it’d be appreciated.


May I commend this to your attention:

Jon Baxendale and Francis Knights, ed., The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book (3 vols., Lyrebird Music, Tynset, 2020). [This contains a substantial preface covering background, bibliographical information and detailed notes on performance practice.]

Reference from wiki:

Here’s the new edition:

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It’s on JSTOR. PM me and I will send it to you.


It looks like a fantastic edition, Andrew. One which I’ll definitely buy at some point in the near future.

Hi Michael,
The Elizabeth Cole article (a lecture which originally included a performance of several pieces by a Mrs. Hodsdon) is available free online through JSTOR. You will have to log on to JSTOR so you need access to a library that subscribes to that. Here’s the link to the article, which allows you to preview the first page:

As the title says, this is an interim report, the issues dealt with are covered in later literature on the subject (but I’m no expert). On the content: Cole identifies the named patrons of several pieces in the FVB as Catholic recusants, and concludes that Francis Tregian the younger was the scribe. I was surprised that she avoids discussing Giles Farnaby, whose entire surviving keyboard works are central to the FVB and whose religious affiliations are somewhat unclear: his Protestant mother Janakin appears to have disinherited him in her will though he contributed 9 pieces to Este’s English psalter.
In general, JSTOR is a great resource and it’s worth joining a library that gives you free access to it.

Seven Problems of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. An Interim Report on JSTOR
Elizabeth Cole, Seven Problems of the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. An Interim Report, Proceedings of the Royal Musical Association, 79th Sess. (1952 - 1953), pp. 51-64

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The Lyrebird edition of My Ladye Nevells Booke is great, too. I was a volunteer proofreader to play through all of it several times during their production cycle.

Bradley Lehman

She also describes John Bull as a ‘frightening’ man on the basis of no evidence whatsoever. It’s terribly dated scholarship.

On FWVB, it’s surprising that Grove online gives it all of about two sentences and that’s it, buried in a long overview of historical keyboard music. A strange sort of neglect.

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Elizabeth Cole’s seven problems (1952) are substantially addressed by David J. Smith in ‘Seven Solutions for Seven Problems: the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book’ in Aspects of Early English Keyboard Music before c.1630. Ashgate Historical Keyboard Series. Routledge, London, pp. 163-183 (2019). ISBN 9781138088672

See also Pamela Palmer Jones, The Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: Historical Background and Performance Practice Issues. DMA paper, University of Utah, 2009, which is freely available online.

To gain free access to Cole’s RMA paper via JSTOR without library membership, see
How to Register & Get Free Access to Content – JSTOR Support:

A reply to the last sentence, “In general, JSTOR is a great resource and it’s worth joining a library that gives you free access to it.”:

If only it were so simple! When I moved to Wolverhampton several years ago, I was delighted to discover that the WV Library offered its members free access to Grove online, et al. Pretty soon, however, this service was discontinued in a round of budget cuts.

But I soon found a work-around - clever me! I joined the Birmingham Library - no membership fee, even for aliens from Wolverhampton - which also offered online resources as above. Alas, before a year had passed, the service had been withdrawn by the B’ham library as well.

At least the library in B’ham has a decent collection of scholarly editions & ditto journals, but you’re pretty much on your own: there doesn’t seem to be a qualified music librarian employed any place between London and maybe Edinburgh, and the general librarians in B’ham - who try as well as they’re able to be helpful - scarcely know the difference between a sonata & a concerto.


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Should be a new topic, but anyway, all you need to know about JSTOR access levels:

Free accounts have longer IP windows on journals.

It is possible to purchase an individual account if you cannot find a library that provides it.

Curiously the stock photo of a library on that pages is the State Library of Victoria here in Melbourne, where I live. Possibly because it is a magnificent 19th century building fully restored.

Looking at the samples I don’t know how I would get used to the frequency of page turns.
The editorial accidentals also give me pause - it takes a few seconds’ thought to work out which note they are intended for.
Screenshot 2023-05-01 at 19.00.00

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Thanks, Dale. I’m in North Birmingham. I’ll take a trip over to the main Brum library, and see what’s available. My local library closed for good around the time of covid, or perhaps a bit before.

Thanks, Lewis. Once I settle down tonight I’ll have a bash at joining JSTOR for a personal account.

What’s an IP window? Should I, a hps enthusiast, know?

Intellectual Property windows. What is means is that journals like, say, Early Music, on JSTOR only provide up to n years, ago, where n may be from 0 to 10 years. The number of years depends on the journal in question. Since articles are fully downloadable as PDF this protects the current and recent journals - else nobody would buy them. They actually call this the moving wall.

I think I’ll make the JSTOR chat a new topic.

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