Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff. 5. 35: Some Structural Observations

Cambridge, University Library, MS Ff. 5. 35 contains The Travels of Sir John Mandeville and Piers Plowman. Both works were copied by a single scribe, and are relatively uniform in terms of layout, decoration, abbreviation, and use of catchwords. These two texts are also found in close proximity in several other manuscripts (Cambridge University Library Dd. 1. 17 and San Marino, Calif., Huntington Library MS HM 114), suggesting that despite differences in genre, form and style, the combination was a somewhat popular and apparently logical one for medieval audiences.

This manuscript features two separate sets of quire markings: a series of quire numbers, likely made by a later binder, loosely resembling Roman numerals; and a series of leaf signatures, apparently scribal, visible on the bottom outer corner of the recto of the first folios of many quires, consisting of a letter marking the quire number and a Roman numeral indicating the number of the folio within that quire. Continue reading

An ex libris puzzle in Cambridge, University Library, MS Ee. 4. 30

Cambridge University Library, MS Ee. 4. 30 is a copy of Walter Hilton’s contemplative treatise The Scale of Perfection. Dating from the late fifteenth century, the manuscript is a good quality production by a single scribe, with some careful decorations. It was produced in the London Charterhouse, a major centre of book production and circulation.

Cambridge University Library, MS Ee. 4.30, fol. 4r. Copyright Cambridge University Library

Cambridge University Library, MS Ee. 4.30, fol. 4r. Copyright Cambridge University Library

Indeed, the presence of an ex libris inscription in the manuscript indicates its provenance, one which follows the standard Latin phrasing from this house: ‘Liber domus salutacionis Matris Dei ordinis cartusiensis prope London’ (‘a book of the house of the Salutation of the Mother of God, of the Carthusian Order, near London’). This formulation appears in several other volumes from the Charterhouse, including at the very end of Cambridge University Library, MS Ff. 1. 19 (fol. 134v), where it is heavily abbreviated. However, in MS Ee. 4. 30 the formulation appears in an unusual and, as far as I have been able to determine, unique format. The inscription appears one letter at a time in the central lower margins of each recto in Part One of the Scale text (fols. 4r – 62r), meaning that the reader has to decipher the text gradually. Continue reading

Sanditon: 200 Years

‘Sanditon: 200 Years’ is a conference that will take place at Trinity College, Cambridge from March 29-31, 2017. The conference will mark the bicentenary of the composition of Jane Austen’s unfinished novel, Sanditon, in a year that also marks the bicentenary of Austen’s death. Austen began to write Sanditon in January of 1817. The manuscript closes with the date of March 18. Austen died four months later.

The manuscript of Sanditon is held at King’s College, Cambridge and will be available for participants in the conference to view, along with items from the Dorothy Warren and David Gilson Jane Austen collections, also held at at King’s.

This conference will be devoted to discussing a diverse range of subjects relating to Jane Austen’s last work. Papers on thematic, historical, stylistic and biographical topics are invited. Particular attention will be given to the manuscript of Sanditon and Austen’s compositional processes, as well as to the reception and textual history of Sanditon in terms of editions, adaptations and continuations.

For further details, including the call for papers, see conference website:

Conference organizer: Dr Anne Toner (Trinity College, Cambridge)