The Index of Middle English Prose: Handlist XXIV
Title Details

320 Pages

23.4 x 15.6 cm

Series: Index of Middle English Prose

Series Vol. Number: 24

Imprint: D.S.Brewer

The Index of Middle English Prose: Handlist XXIV

Manuscripts in New York City Libraries

by Paul Acker

  • Description
  • Author
Handlist to the rich collection of manuscripts contained in five major libraries across New York, giving a full account of their provenance.

This volume provides detailed descriptions of Middle English prose materials found in the Columbia University Rare Book and Manuscripts Library, The Pierpont Morgan Library, The New York Public Library, The New York Academy of Medicine Library, and New York University Bobst Library (Special Collections). The manuscripts tend to be less well known than those in English libraries, with overlooked texts such as the Pseudo-Hildegard Anti-Mendicant Prophecy; The Book of Palmistry; a subject index of legal statutes; culinary and medical recipes; and English instructions to Latin prayers in Books of Hours. Other manuscripts of note include Trevisa's translation of De proprietatibus rerum by Bartholomaeus Anglicus, used as a copy-text for Wynkyn de Worde's first edition printed ca. 1495; and deluxe illustrated manuscripts of The Pilgrimage of the Soul and Ordinances of Chivalry.


The introduction to the volume highlights the particular interests of the various collectors and the influences and characteristics underpinning their acquisitions. All but one of the manuscripts described from Columbia University were acquired by George A. Plimpton (1855-1936), whose firm, Ginn and Co., published spelling books. His collection records an interest in the history of education, with MS 258, a primer probably compiled for an English schoolchild, being a highlight. John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913) specialized in expensive, illustrated manuscripts, aided in his purchases by Belle da Costa Greene, who became the first director of the Morgan Library as a public institution under J.P. Morgan, Jr. Curt F. Bühler became the Keeper of Printed Books at the Morgan in 1934, bequeathing to the Library the manuscripts that he had bought over the years. James Lenox and John Jacob Astor established the New York Public Library, with Lenox donating two Wycliffite Bibles and Astor a third. The New York Academy of Medicine owns two manuscripts relating to the work of the French surgeon Guy de Chauliac.

PAUL ACKER is Professor Emeritus of English at Saint Louis University, United States of America.

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9781843846918

April 2023

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9781800109773

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Title Details

320 Pages

2.34 x 1.56 cm

Series: Index of Middle English Prose

Series Vol. Number: 24

Imprint: D.S.Brewer