Introducing English Medieval Book History

BookIntroducing English Medieval Book History

Introducing English Medieval Book History

Manuscripts, their Producers and their Readers

Exeter Medieval Texts and Studies


July 10th, 2013



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This book offers an introduction to medieval English book-history through a sequence of exemplary analyses of commonplace book-historical problems. Rather than focus on bibliographical particulars, the volume considers a variety of ways in which scholars use manuscripts to discuss book culture, and it provides a wide-ranging introductory bibliography to aid in the study. All the essays try to suggest how the study of surviving medieval books might be useful in considering medieval literary culture more generally. Subjects covered include authorship, genre, discontinuous production, scribal individuality and community, the history of libraries and the history of book provenance.

Market/readership: ' The book has been set out to teach first-year graduates. But it is within the intellectual reach of final-year undergraduates. At the same time, given the breadth of the filed, its individual chapters often make scholarly interventions. It will be perfectly fit for use as a textbook in a range of graduate context, but will also be a useful volume for scholars, primarily those just venturing into the field, but with gleanings for established scholars with interests in medieval book-production'


'Scholarship in this work is superb. Quotations, translations, bibliography are spot on. Professor Hanna’s lifetime of intelligent work in the field glows at all points of discussion.'
MS referee

'This is a first-rate book from a scholar at the forefront of palaeographical and bibliographical study; it will have a wide readership. It will be an excellent partner for the recent Owen-Crocker volume 'Working with Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts.'
Series Editors

'This handsome volume teaches far more than the facts of book history, manuscript culture, and Middle English Literature. It is a model of how to sleuth, how to think critically, how to enter into a detective mindset 'in which every implicit assumption of knowledge [is] teased out, queried and productively qualified.'
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Author Information

Ralph Hanna is Professor of Palaeography (Emeritus) and Emeritus Fellow at Keble College, Oxford. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow, former Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute (Harvard University), and winner of the British Academy Sir Israel Gollancz Prize for English Language 2015. His books include Editing Medieval Texts (Liverpool University Press, 2015), Introducing English Medieval Book History: Manuscripts, their Producers and their Readers (Liverpool University Press, 2013) and Richard Rolle: Unprinted Latin Writings (Liverpool University Press, 2019).

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover 1
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
Table of Contents6
On the reproductions22
1. Texts and Their Books: The Case of Beowulf24
2. Medieval Authors and Texts: The Middle English ‘Benjamin’53
Appendix: The Manuscripts of ‘Benjamin’74
3. The History of a Book: Bodleian Library, MS Rawlinson C.28582
4. Shared Exemplars: British Library, MS Cotton Galba E.ix and its Relations119
5. Scribal Oeuvres: ‘Chaucer’s Scribe’ and his Canterbury Tales155
6. A Book Contract and its ‘Set Text’: John Forbor’s Psalter189
Appendix: The Slaithwaite indenture: a transcription, translation and notes214
7. Provenances: some medieval libraries216
Appendix: Selections from medieval booklists241
Index of Manuscripts Cited247
Index of Scholars Cited251