Edmund Tilney
Historical Figure
Nationality: England
Date of Birth: 1536
Date of Death: 1610
Cause of Death: Natural causes
Occupation: Knight, Bureaucrat, Author of Non-Fiction
Spouse: Mary Braye, probably predeceased him
Political Office(s): Master of the Revels
Turtledove Appearances:
"We Haven't Got There Yet"
Set in OTL (?)
Type of Appearance: Oblique contemporary reference
Ruled Britannia
POD: July-August, 1588
Type of Appearance: Direct
Edmund Tilney or Tylney (1536-1610) was a courtier best known now as Master of the Revels to Queen Elizabeth I and King James I. He was responsible for the censorship of drama in England, including many of the works of William Shakespeare. He was also instrumental in the development of English drama of the Elizabethan period, making the office of Master of the Revels into an institution. Despite his prominent office, little is actually known about Tilney's life.

Edmund Tilney in "We Haven't Got There Yet"Edit

In 1606, a new play performed at the Rose featured discussions of topics usually not considered suitable for theatrical performance, and had women as actors. William Shakespeare was in the audience, and wondered how these elements had escaped the notice of the Master of the Revels.

Literary commentEdit

Tilney isn't named, but there is no reason to think that someone else was Master.

Edmund Tilney in Ruled BritanniaEdit

Despite the fact that he attained the office of Master of Revels under Queen Elizabeth, Edmund Tilney retained the office even after the Spanish Armada succeeded in conquering England.[1] When William Shakespeare began writing Boudicca, he had to keep Tilney in the dark,[2] by continuing to write the play King Philip.

Tilney was never the wiser, personally meeting with Shakespeare to compliment him on King Philip, which he found to be excellent.[3]

When Boudicca was performed, steps were taken by Lord Westmorland's Men to insure that none of Tilney's spies were able to leave the Theatre until the performance was over.[4]

Literary CommentEdit

The post-restoration fate of Tilney, unlike other collaborators, is not addressed.


  1. Ruled Britannia, pg. 80.
  2. Ibid., pg. 127.
  3. Ibid., pgs. 339-341.
  4. Ibid., pg. 365.
Political offices
Preceded by
Sir Thomas Blagrave
Master of the Revels for England
Succeeded by
Sir George Buck