Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

London Guildhall: Cradle of English literature

Date:
August 10, 2010
Source:
University of York
Summary:
Researchers have found evidence that the London Guildhall served as the cradle of English Literature in the late Middle Ages. It was the home to scribes who copied the first manuscripts of works by fourteenth-century authors Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower, as well as early copies of other Middle English authors including William Langland and John Trevisa.

City of London, London Metropolitan Archives, Custumal 12 (Liber Albus), folio 60r, the first page of the Inspeximus of Henry IV confirming royal grants to the City of London, written by the scribe Richard Frampton and with red marginal annotations by Richard Osbarn.
Credit: Photograph by L.R.Mooney. Reproduced with permission of London Metropolitan Archives. Courtesy of University of York.

Two University of York researchers have found evidence that the London Guildhall served as the cradle of English Literature in the late Middle Ages.

It was the home to scribes who copied the first manuscripts of works by fourteenth-century authors Geoffrey Chaucer and John Gower, as well as early copies of other Middle English authors including William Langland and John Trevisa.

Professor Linne Mooney and Dr Estelle Stubbs, of the Centre for Medieval Studies at York, discovered evidence of the identities of several scribes of Middle English literature who were members of the civic secretariat at the London Guildhall.

They include John Marchaunt, the Common Clerk of the City from 1399 to 1417, who copied two of the four earliest manuscripts of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. He also copied all or parts of eight manuscripts of Gower's Confessio Amantis ('The Confession of the Lover') as well as manuscripts of works by William Langland and John Trevisa.

Richard Osbarn, the Clerk of the Chamber of the City from 1400 to 1438, copied two early manuscripts of Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde. He also copied manuscripts of works by William Langland and anonymous authors based in the north and west of England whose writings were apparently brought to London for dissemination.

The discoveries were the result of painstaking research in the London Metropolitan Archives, where the York scholars matched the handwriting of scribes copying important early English literary manuscripts with the hands of Guildhall clerks copying documents and custumals.

The names and dates of Guildhall officers were already known, and research into their roles identified certain entries for which they would have been responsible. For instance, Marchaunt and Osbarn both served as Clerks of the Chamber at different times. The Chamber Clerk was responsible for recording in the Letter Books the decisions of the Chamberlain regarding the care of the orphans of Freemen of the City. The dates at which entries regarding orphans match the hands of literary manuscripts coincide with the dates when Marchaunt and Osbarn each served as Chamber Clerk.

Osbarn, in particular, appears to have been responsible for writing copies that would be kept at the Guildhall to be lent out for further copies to be made (the equivalent of publishing in the pre-print era).

These findings confirm Professor Mooney's discovery six years ago that Adam Pinkhurst, the scribe who worked directly for Chaucer and wrote two early copies of his Canterbury Tales, also worked in a clerical position in the City. Professor Mooney and Dr Stubbs have now also discovered his hand in documents of the City, including its Letter Books recording the decisions of Mayor and Aldermen, demonstrating that he, too, worked in some capacity for the City as well as for the Mercers' Company.

Osbarn also took on clerical work for the Goldsmiths' Company, and another Middle English copyist worked in this capacity for the Skinners' Company.

Professor Mooney said: "Our findings show that not only did major authors of early English literature live in London, but their works were disseminated by the clerks who worked for the City's Mayor and Aldermen, supported by the City itself through its governing body and through its guilds."

The work is part of a major Arts and Humanities Research Council project, 'Identification of the Scribes Responsible for Copying Major Works of Middle English Literature', in which Professor Mooney and Dr Stubbs are collaborating with Dr Simon Horobin, of Magdalen College, Oxford.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of York. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of York. "London Guildhall: Cradle of English literature." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809094533.htm>.
University of York. (2010, August 10). London Guildhall: Cradle of English literature. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809094533.htm
University of York. "London Guildhall: Cradle of English literature." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100809094533.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Fossils & Ruins News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Neil Armstrong's Post-Apollo 11 Life

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Neil Armstrong gained international fame after becoming the first man to walk on the moon in 1969. But what was his life like after the historic trip? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

A Centuries' Old British Tradition Is Far from a Swan Song

AFP (July 19, 2014) — As if it weren't enough that the Queen is the Sovereign of the UK and 15 other Commonwealth realms, she is also the owner of all Britain's unmarked swans. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

45 Years Later, Buzz Aldrin on Walking on Moon

AP (July 18, 2014) — Forty-five years ago Sunday, Apollo 11's Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the moon. Speaking at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Aldrin described what he was thinking right before the historic walk. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins