The Norman Blake Editions of the Canterbury Tales

The Norman Blake Editions of the Canterbury Tales image

Online editions of seven manuscripts of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales


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The Norman Blake Editions of The Canterbury Tales is a series of online editions which present full diplomatic transcriptions of eight manuscripts of Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales. The manuscripts are as follows: Cambridge University Library Dd 4.24; British Library Additional 35286; British Library Lansdowne 851; National Library of Wales Aberystwyth Peniarth 392D ("Hengwrt"); San Marino California Huntington Library El 26 C9 ("Ellesmere"); Oxford Corpus Christi College 198; and British Library Harley 7334. A Multitext edition contains all seven manuscripts.

This resource, in particular the multitext edition, do not set out to be all things to all people. Our intention is simple: to make the texts available to the public. It will be for others within the community to then take these texts forward, and Sheffield will seek to facilitate re-use of its data for strictly non-commercial purposes. Eventually we would like to see our transcriptions being embedded, perhaps dynamically through the use of an API, within a range of learning resources which promote online scholarly communities.

Finally, we hope that The Blake Editions of the Canterbury Tales will, at long last, realise the vision of its original Director, Professor Norman Blake, and democratise the debates about editing the text of The Canterbury Tales.


This resource is of particular importance to scholars of Chaucer and Middle English language and literature.

Site users can choose to consult the texts as individual editions or via the multitext version. The individual manuscript editions reflect individual editorial decisions and priorities in terms of the representation of the text and the accompanying critical apparatus and scholarship, but edition contains a full diplomatic transcription of the text, a linguistic concordance, and scholarly articles which focus on aspects such as provenance, codicology, palaeography, linguistics and significance within The Canterbury Tales textual tradition.

The multitext edition is more utilitarian, providing access to all eight manuscript transcriptions with the facility to conduct searches and generate line-by-line comparisons of the textual variants within each manuscript. Registered users can access an Edition Builder tool enabling them to construct their own edition of The Canterbury Tales by selecting their own words and spellings from the body of available evidence.

Introductory reading

Barbrook, Adrian C. et al. 'The phylogeny of The Canterbury Tales'. Nature, 394 (August 1998).

Technical Methods

The texts were transcribed by Sheffield staff under the direction of Professor Norman Blake. On average the transcription of each manuscript was proofread three times. The text and glosses of the manuscript have been tagged in XML.

Special Characters

The resource includes the searchable special characters thorn (þ), eth (ð) and yogh (ȝ).

About the project

During the 1990s the British Academy and the Arts & Humanities Research Board funded a project called The Canterbury Tales Project, which was directed by the late Professor Norman Blake. The Sheffield phase of the project ran from 1994 to 1999, during which the Sheffield team transcribed eight manuscripts in their entirety and the majority of seven further manuscripts in addition to all witnesses of the Franklin's Tale. It is this body of data which constitutes The Blake Editions of the Canterbury Tales.

The Editors were Orietta Da Rold, Simon Horobin, Estelle Stubbs, and Claire Thomson, with contributions from Linda Cross. Further funding was provided by the University of Sheffield. All technical realisation was conducted by the Humanities Research Institute at Sheffield, led by Michael Pidd, and the publisher is HRI Online Publications.



Search The Blake Canterbury Tales

Source Types

  • Literary Manuscripts


  • Transcriptions


  • Geoffrey Chaucer
  • Canterbury Tales
  • multitext


  • English


  • Free

Time Period



HRI Online, University of Sheffield

Cite this page:

"The Blake Canterbury Tales" Manuscripts Online (, version 1.0, 28 May 2024),