The Index of Middle English Prose

October 2017
410 pages
24x17 cm
Index of Middle English Prose
ISBN: 9781843844778
Format: Hardback
BISAC LIT011000, LIT012000, REF004000

The Index of Middle English Prose

Handlist XXIII: The Rawlinson Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford

S.J. Ogilvie-Thomson

A series which is "a monumental achievement" (Review of English Studies).
In 1755 Richard Rawlinson bequeathed his vast collection of books and manuscripts to the Bodleian Library. The manuscripts alone numbered over 5,000, and the 167 of these which contain Middle English prose are indexed in this Handlist. These are divided fairly evenly between religious and secular texts: Rawlinson does not seem to have been interested in any particular genre; if a book was old and deemed to be of historical interest it entered his collection, either as an acquisition or a contemporary transcription. Scriptural and devotional writing is represented by copies of the New Testament, three different works by Rolle and three by Hilton, Love's Mirror, a Primer, Sacerdos Parochialis, The Chastising of God's Children, The Mirror of Our Lady, The Mirror to Lewd Men and Women, excerpts from the works of St Catherine of Siena and St Bridget of Sweden, Mirk's Festial, other sermons, Wycliffite treatises, the only English copy known of William Thorpe's Testimony, prayers, several copies of Pore Caitiff, and more. Secular and political writing includes versions of Mandeville's Travels, John Fortescue's On the Governance of England, translations of two works by Alain Chartier, and The English Conquest of Ireland. There is a rich selection of historical prose, with ten Bruts in whole or part, royal genealogies, accounts of royal weddings and of the coronation of Richard II, descriptions of court etiquette, the deposition of Richard II, the challenge for the English throne of Henry IV and his speech of acceptance. Scientific and utilitarian prose is illustrated by Chaucer's Astrolabe, grammatical treatises, alchemical writings by Lull and Ripley, medical treatises, especially urologies, and, in a lighter vein, extracts from the J.B. Treatise on hunting and country life, as well as separate works on hawking, angling and gardening. The abundance of recipes, medical, culinary and veterinary, singly and in collection, have been treated in this Handlist in particular detail.

Sarah Ogilvie-Thomson is a former lecturer in language and medieval literature at St Edmund Hall, Oxford.


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