When I came to Toronto in 1945 as a Fellow in English at University College to work under Professor A. S. P. Woodhouse, I was almost overwhelmed with the catching up I had to do, since my first degree was in Classics. By 1946 things were quietening down and I was required to think about the subject for my Ph.D. thesis. One day Professor Woodhouse called me in to ask about this, and I told him I thought I should like to write a thesis on Hardy. He was silent for a while and then said, meditatively:
Well, Love, Hardy would be an interesting man to work on, but many others could do that. Your background in Classics, Scholar at Cambridge and eight years of teaching Latin and Greek at Bishops College School and now English at Toronto, give you unusual qualifications which should surely be utilized. Now there is a scholarly job which needs to be done as a contribution to knowledge. I think you're admirably equipped to do this. I'm talking about the Renaissance Latin Drama, which is a field almost untapped. I'm writing a book on Milton and he was very interested in this area. His notes on this have survived and are now collected in "Milton's Cambridge Manuscript"; he lists many biblical stories and sometimes gives a brief account of a plot for a play. Other well known biblical subjects he omits or merely notes. It seems likely that he was thinking of writing a play, probably on Adam and Eve. Classical scholars do not seem interested in this area, but you could do something valuable. I thought of a very good topic: The Scriptural Latin Plays of the Renaissance and Milton's Cambridge Manuscript.
He paused and smiled: "Well, think about it. I'd be very happy to supervise such a thesis."
The Chairman of Graduate English offering a subject in which I could use my early training and his kind offer to supervise the work himself! I accepted with thanks immediately. I finished the thesis and the Ph.D. in 1950. Professor Woodhouse read whatever work I gave him carefully and even with enthusiasm. Languages were not his particular interest or strength, and here was a small section of Milton's work that was nearly new to him and together we were able to clear it up.
In 1948 I moved to Victoria College to be with Pratt, Robins, Coburn, Frye and others, and in 1950 I took on the supervision of the men's residences and the many jobs that went with the position of Senior Tutor (in those days virtually Dean of Men and a job to be done in addition to an almost full teaching load). Consequently I did not get back to Latin Drama until I had a sabbatical in England in 1964-65. Soon after my return I gave in 1966 a Graduate Course in Renaissance Latin Drama and continued it till I retired in 1977. We enjoyed together hunting up texts and rare commentaries and almost every week delving into new territory. However, it became clear to me that texts were not easily available and that most of today's students and readers have not had sufficient training to cope with plays written in Latin. This important and almost unresearched area will not be explored as it should be until more translations are available. This is the aim of my work.
These translations are for the pre-Shakespearean and Shakespearean scholars, for surely Shakespeare's dramatic lineage is from the Greeks through the Romans and eventually through the Renaissance Latin Drama. Large numbers of general readers, drama enthusiasts, will also probably welcome five new plays. I took on this laborious task because I wanted to accept Professor Woodhouse's challenge and make a visible contribution to knowledge.
These translations are not just literal versions but are readable prose, close to the Latin, in the tradition of the Loeb translations of the Classics. No attempt has been made to adapt them or improve them, though at times it was tempting to do this. All the originals are in verse, mostly iambic trimeter, which is very similar to blank verse.
I'm deeply indebted to the students who researched this work with me and particularly to Rea Wilmshurst who as my editorial assistant helped so admirably.