Digital Collections: Over 60 Chaucer Manuscripts Now Available Online From the British Library
From the British Library:
We hold the world’s largest surviving collection of Chaucer’s works, and this year we have reached a major milestone. Thanks to generous funding provided by The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Peck Stacpoole Foundation, and the American Trust for the British Library, the Library has completed the digitisation of all of our pre-1600 manuscripts containing Chaucer’s works, over 60 collection items in total. We have digitised not only complete copies of Chaucer’s poems, but also unique survivals, including fragmentary texts found in Middle English anthologies or inscribed in printed editions and incunabula.
The newly digitised and accessible material includes:
- The Canterbury Tales, which presents a portrait of late medieval Britain through a combination of poignant tragedy and tongue-in-cheek humour, and larger-than-life characters, and, although unfinished when Chaucer died in 1400, is still celebrated as some of the greatest works in the English language
- Lesser-known and lesser-studied works by Chaucer, such as his Treatise on the Astrolabe and Anelida and Arcite
- One of only a small number of surviving portraits of Chaucer
- A clasped volume with its original medieval binding
- A manuscript written by John Shirley, one of the most important transcribers of Chaucer’s work in the late medieval period.
One of the most transformational figures of English Literature, as well as being – arguably – the greatest poet of the Middle English period, we’re delighted to open up Chaucer’s works to researchers and literary enthusiasts around the world. The collection will be freely available online on 25 October to coincide with the 623rd anniversary of Chaucer’s death.
The manuscripts have been catalogued in full, with comprehensive descriptions of their contents, decoration, physical characteristics and provenance. Hosted on the British Library Universal Viewer, Chaucer’s manuscripts are available to view in full – what’s more, users will able be able to compare these manuscripts side-by-side in digital form, allowing close comparison between the volumes, their texts, and scribal hands.
Access the Manuscripts (Direct Links to All Titles)
This represents the culmination of a two and a half year project, bringing together teams from across the British Library, helping to make accessible the works of one of the foundational figures in the history of English literature.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (email@example.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.