Welcome to the 2020 Birth of Merlin Reading Group!

Thanks for joining us on this weird and wonderful journey 😃


This is an asynchronous, extremely casual, just-for-fun space to read, discuss, and enjoy one of the wackiest plays ever written in English. It’s got dragons! It’s got magic battles! It’s got mixed-up English mythology! It’s got a self-insert Clown! The Clown is also Merlin’s uncle! You’re in for a wild ride.

There’s currently a general board up for introductions, expressions of excitement/confusion, erc. Starting Monday 20 April, I’ll add a discussion board for one act of the play each week. Feel free to throw in questions, observations, links to other relevant reading, reaction gifs, whatever tickles your fancy.

There are only 3 blanket rules:

1. Be excellent to each other. Everyone’s welcome, unless you’re gonna be an asshole. If you’re being horrible, you’re going to get kicked out. I don’t want to have to password-protect and aggressively moderate these boards, but I will if the assholes show up.

2. Introduce Yourself on the ‘General Discussion’ thread. This will help everyone keep track of who’s posting. If you’d like to share pronouns, this is a good spot to include them.

3. What happens on the boards, stays on the boards. Feel free to invite others to join in on the discussion, but get permission from the person who made the post before you share it outside these virutal walls, please. That includes social media and your own work/research/writing/essays. If in doubt, ask.

That’s it! If you’re ready to get started, the discussion boards can be found here.

Access to the Play

The Birth of Merlin can be accessed through EEBO, if you have institutional access.

Alternatively, there’s a full-text transcription available here: http://www.zendonaldson.com/twilight/camelot/plays/birth_merlin/index.htm

Charlene Smith was kind enough to create a clean copy PDF of this transcription, which can be accessed under ‘Files on the HCommons group: https://hcommons.org/groups/the-birth-of-merlin-reading-group/documents/

At that same link, you can also find a PDF facsimile of the 1662 quarto.