‘”Particles of light”: the legacy of Henry Bradshaw’

Monday 4 December, Milstein Room, Cambridge University Library

Henry Bradshaw was elected University Librarian in March 1867. In his nineteen years in office before his untimely death in 1886 at the age of fifty-five, he transformed Cambridge University Library’s collections and, through his important contributions to scholarship, laid the foundations for modern codicological and bibliographical methods. Above all, he is remembered for giving freely of his knowledge and time to others. This conference celebrates 150 years since Bradshaw’s appointment as University Librarian and the illuminating ‘particles of light’ that his scholarship shone on the study of manuscripts and early printed books.

Speakers: David McKitterick, Arnold Hunt, Peter Jones, Richard Beadle, Lotte Hellinga, Paul Russell, Nicolas Bell

Book tickets online at https://specialcollections.blog.lib.cam.ac.uk/?p=15426

(booking closes 22 Nov)


Memoranda and Mutual Friends: Dickens and his practices of note-taking in the Book of Memoranda

When asked about the role of note-taking in his compositional practice in 1839 edition of The Knickerbocker Magazine, a young Charles Dickens asserted:

I never commit thoughts to paper until I am obliged to write, being better able to keep them in regular order on different shelves of my brain, ready ticketed and labelled to be brought out when I want them.[1]

In this case, the mythology doesn’t seem to stack up to the material. Examining the handwritten culture at the heart of Charles Dickens’s compositional practice pulls the researcher in many directions. In what material evidence we have remaining, we do not find ‘regular order’, the ‘ready ticketed and labelled’ shelving system of the brain, artfully and systematically laid bare on paper.  Oftentimes, rather than fullness, one finds fragments, rather than surety, one finds scribbles. Continue reading

Cambridge Palaeography East-West

Palaeography East-West (23 May 2017) ‘Palaeography East-West’ will take place on Tuesday 23 May 2017 in Room 8&9 of the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.

9.45 Paul Russell, Introduction

10.00 Máire Ní Mhaonaigh (ASNC) and Michael Rand (AMES), ‘Manuscripts between languages: a global perspective’

10.45 Coffee break

11.00 Tessa Webber (History), ‘Palaeographical analysis and digital humanities: the DigiPal framework and the challenge of cursive handwriting’

11.45 Anne McLaughlin (Parker Library), ‘The Parker Library for students’

12.15 Myriah Williams (ASNC), ‘Black Book of Carmarthen (Aberystwyth, NLW, Peniarth 1), fol. 40v’

12.45 Lunch

1.45 Paul Russell (ASNC), ‘Welsh scribbles in the UL’

2.15 Jonathan Wright (ASNC), ‘Defining the parameters of an inconsistent hand from Iceland, c. 1300’

2.45 Laura Moretti (AMES), ‘The cursive hand in early-modern Japanese woodblock-printed books’

3.30 Close

If you wish to attend the event we would be grateful if you could fill in the following form by Monday 22 May 2017:


For further information, please contact Dr Laura Moretti: lm571@cam.ac.uk

Cambridge Medieval Palaeography Workshop 2017

The Cambridge Medieval Palaeography Workshop is a forum for informal discussion on medieval script and scribal practices, and on the presentation, circulation and reception of texts in their manuscript contexts. Each workshop focuses upon a particular issue, usually explored through one or more informal presentations and general discussion. All are welcome. 

Friday 28 April 2017, 2-4pm, Faculty of English (West Road), Room SR24

Analyzing scribal technique: the perspective of a practitioner

An informal workshop on scribal techniques in the writing of the formal book-script, littera textualis, in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, led by the scribe, Paul Antonio, focusing upon examples from the composite music manuscript, the Montpellier Codex (Montpellier, Bibliothèque de Médecine, H 196). 

Friday 5 May 2017, 2-4pm Faculty of English (West Road), Room SR24

Late-medieval manuscript dissemination

Dr Phil Knox (Trinity College, Cambridge; Faculty of English) ‘Tracking manuscripts of the Roman de la rose in late-medieval Britain: approaches and problems’

Friday 12 May 2017, 2-4 pm Cambridge University Library (Milstein Seminar Room), 2-4pm

 Analyzing parchment and binding structures: the perspective of a conservator

An informal workshop on parchment and binding structures of medieval manuscripts in the University Library, led by Edward Cheese, informed by his observations while working on these manuscripts as a conservator.

Convenors: Teresa Webber, Orietta Da Rold, Suzanne Paul, Sean Curran and David Ganz

For further details, email mtjw2@cam.ac.uk

London Medieval Manuscripts Seminar

28 Mar 2017, 17:30 to 28 Mar 2017, 19:00

Dr Seng T Lee Centre for Manuscript and Book Studies, Senate House Library, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Ralph Hanna III (Emeritus Fellow, Keble College, Oxford)

Cambridge, University Library, MS. Dd.1.17

Professor Hanna will discuss the medieval and post-medieval history of this compendious collection of Latin and Middle English historical writing and other literature.

All welcome.

Further details: http://www.ies.sas.ac.uk/events/event/7273

Workshop: Materiality in German Studies

Dr Alexander Knopf (Visiting German Scholar, DAAD–University of Cambridge Research Hub)

28 February 2017, 4-6pm, RFB 331

MML Faculty Building, Cambridge

Literary texts are not simply objects available for the purposes of a literary scholar. They are, particularly when the writing was passed down to us in form of manuscripts, the result of an editorial procedure and, therefore, an interpretative practice. Hence, a literary specialist who solely deals with prints that are edited may only interpret a text that has already been an object of interpretation.

The workshop ‘Materiality in German studies’ offers an introduction for those interested in getting more familiar with German manuscript culture. It seeks to introduce lecturers, researchers and graduate students to editorial philology. This will include an exploration of exemplary manuscript material, sourced from authors like Hölderlin, Novalis or Kafka, which is famous for its publishing history. The workshop will provide you with key skills in critical editing by analysing the material basis of texts, the relevance of paper, ink, and watermarks. You will be exposed to Deutsche Kurrent, a non-Latin script which was in use until the beginning of the 20th century, and you will learn to read it. Additionally, material for further study or teaching will be provided. The second part of the workshop will leave room for discussion on how to create impact-related teaching material for a given project (such as the ‘Transcribe Schnitzler’ website), in conjunction with palaeographic skills.

The workshop is particularly tailored for postgraduate students and academic staff in the School of Humanities & Arts and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. Reading comprehension skills in German are required. The number of participants is limited to 15. For registration, please contact aknopf@mailbox.org by 26th February 2017.


Layers of Parchment, Layers of Time: Reconstructing Manuscripts 800 – 1600, is an interdisciplinary  day-long symposium that will explore various issues surrounding the complex subject of manuscript reconstruction. Our goal is to foster dialogues—between different disciplines—on how to approach dismembered manuscripts from intellectual and practical perspectives.

It will take place in Pembroke College, Cambridge on 23 June 2017


Call for Papers, 1 February 2017

Registration: https://reconstructingmanuscripts2017.wordpress.com/contact/

TEACHING THE CODEX 2: further thoughts on the pedagogy of palaeography and codicology.


The colloquium will take place on Saturday, 6th May 2017 at Merton College, Oxford.

Morning and afternoon sessions will each consist of two panels running concurrently on particular topics (1.5 hrs) followed by a plenary session (1 hr) in which members of the two panels will report and comment on the panel session to all of the delegates, and facilitate further discussion.  The hope is that by dividing the delegates into smaller groups than at the last meeting of Teaching the Codex more focused conversations will be generated.

The registration fee is £10:–, covering attendance, lunch, and refreshments.  To register please follow this link to the Oxford University Stores:


The topics under discussion and our speakers are as follows:

(a)    Continental and Anglophone approaches to teaching palaeography and codicology

  • Irene Ceccherini (Oxford) (chair)
  • Marigold Norbye (UCL)
  • Daniel Sawyer (Oxford)
  • Raphaële Mouren (Warburg)

(b)   Pedagogical approaches to musical manuscripts

  • Henry Hope (Bern) (chair)
  • Margaret Bent (Oxford)
  • Eleanor Giraud (Limerick)
  • Christian Leitmeir (Oxford)

(c)    Approaches to teaching art history and manuscript studies

  • Emily Guerry (Kent) (chair)
  • Kathryn Rudy (St Andrews)
  • Spike Bucklow (Cambridge)
  • Emily Savage (St Andrews)

(d)   Taking palaeography further: using manuscripts to engage in outreach with schools and the general public

  • Pauline Souleau (Oxford) (chair)
  • Gustav Zamore (Oxford)
  • Anna Boeles Rowland (Oxford)
  • Sarah Laseke (Leiden)

Closing remarks: Teresa Webber (Cambridge)

For more information on Teaching the Codex, please visit https://teachingthecodex.wordpress.com, or follow us on Twitter (@TeachingCodex).

Any queries, please do not hesitate to contact us: teachingthecodex@gmail.com

We very much look forward to seeing many of you there.

London Medieval Manuscripts Seminar: Programme 2016/7

Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London

Medieval Manuscripts Seminar: Programme 2016/7

 11 October 2016

 Andrew Dunning, British Library

Manuscript Collaboration between Malmesbury and Cirencester Abbeys

From the 1130s to the 1240s, a continual exchange in manuscripts supported the communities of the Benedictine abbey in Malmesbury and the Augustinian abbey in Cirencester. Robert of Cricklade, a canon at Cirencester, wrote of his admiration of William of Malmesbury and his efforts to have copies of several of his works made for the abbey library. Also at Cirencester, Walter de Melida, a scribe and textual critic, used Malmesbury manuscripts for copies of John of Salisbury’s Policraticus and Alan of Tewkesbury’s collection of the letters of Thomas Becket. After the death of Cirencester’s most famous author, Alexander Neckam, in 1217, the prior of Malmesbury provided Walter with a statement of his admiration for Alexander’s Corrogationes Promethei, likely supporting an effort to assemble Alexander’s complete works. In the 1240s, Alexander’s nephew, Geoffrey Brito, compiled a miscellany of his uncle’s works, Sol meldunensis, dedicating it to Geoffrey, abbot of Malmesbury, with an invitation for further contributions. The manuscript appears to have been passed between the two abbeys, with new features added along the way.

22 November 2016

Mary Wellesley, British Library

Graphical Reverence and Script Hierarchy in the manuscript of the N-town Plays

The paper examines the macaronic text of the Magnificat from the ‘Visit to Elizabeth’ pageant in London, British Library, Cotton MS Vespasian D. VIII  — the sole surviving copy of the Middle English play cycle, The N-town Plays. It explores what the scribe’s use of a script hierarchy has to tell us about performance and reading, and the interplay between liturgy and drama.

 31 January 2017

Ainoa Correa Castro, Marie Curie Postdoctoral Research Fellow, King’s College London

The scribes of the Silos Apocalypse (London, British Library, Add. MS. 11695) and the scriptorium of Silos in the late eleventh century

In the late eleventh century Fortunio, abbot of the newly restored Benedictine community of Silos, near Burgos, commissioned the time- and cost-consuming task of replicating for the monastery one of the most significant best-sellers of the peninsular Middle Ages: a Beatus. In doing so, he was continuing a long-lasting Iberian, Mozarabic, tradition originating in the late eighth century. In this seminar the Silos Apocalypse will be examined with the purpose of unveiling who were the scribes who intervened in its copying, what can be known about their professional connections, what was their cultural context, and how this codex fits within the written production of Silos in the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries.

 7 February 2017

Arianna D’Ottone Rambach, Associate Professor of Arabic Language and Literature, Palaeography, Codicology and Numismatics – Sapienza, University of Rome

Arabic Palaeography: Mediterranean contacts and influences

Bilingual and digraphic manuscript-witnesses, papyri, manuscripts and gems, in Greek and Arabic, and Latin and Arabic, offer the opportunity to explore cultural interactions between Mediterranean written practices, and connections between book cultures. A recently discovered, and unique document in Arabic, written in Latin letters, will be also presented and put in context from both the historical and linguistic points of view.

 14 March 2017

David Rundle, University of Oxford

English Humanist Script in England: the first ten years

In the last half century, the outline of the early development in Florence of humanist bookhand, littera antiqua, has been amassed in detail. Central to this was the work of A. C. de la Mare, who also reconstructed the history of that script in England. This paper revisits that topic and reveals the identity of the first known humanist scribe at work in England. The intention, however, is not simply to add to the sum of knowledge about humanism’s reception beyond the European mainland but also to question the established narratives about its spread from its Italian centre to the periphery.

 28 March 2017

Ralph Hanna III (Emeritus Fellow, Keble College, Oxford)

Cambridge, University Library, MS. Dd.1.17


Venue: Dr Seng T Lee Centre for Manuscript and Book Studies,
Senate House Library, University of London,
Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
All meetings at 5.30 p.m., Tuesdays, followed by a wine reception.
Organiser: Julia Crick, King’s College London.

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