Late Medieval English Scribes

Late Medieval English Scribes image

Descriptions and illustrations of the scribal handwriting of all medieval and early modern manuscripts of English works by Geoffrey Chaucer, John Trevisa, John Gower, William Langland and Thomas Hoccleve


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Late Medieval English Scribes is an online catalogue of all scribal hands (identified or unidentified) which appear in the manuscripts of the English writings of five major Middle English authors: Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Trevisa, William Langland and Thomas Hoccleve. The catalogue contains 419 manuscript descriptions, 524 scribal profiles, almost 17000 images of letter forms and 436 images of manuscript pages.

The project investigated the manuscripts of the writers' literary works to find relationships among the writers and their patrons and audiences through the identification of the scribes who wrote the manuscripts. The online catalogue will enable specialists and interested members of the public to trace the connections between manuscripts of this period and to make further identifications of manuscripts written by these scribes.


This resource is of particular relevance to manuscript studies, palaeography, literature and codicology.

The catalogue includes an image of each scribal hand, brief descriptions of the manuscripts and images of selected sample letter forms. In addition to the overall aspect images of the scribal hands and manuscript descriptions, the site includes images of sample letter forms for eight letters, a, d, g, h, r, s, w and y. These were chosen as having the most variable forms in late medieval English scripts and thus the best distinguishing graphs of a scribal hand.

The catalogue may be browsed by manuscript location/shelfmarks, scribal profiles, authors and letters. Advanced search options cover scribal profile, manuscript description, codicology and provenance, and decoration. There is also a bibliography.

Introductory reading

Doyle, A. I. and Parkes, M. B. 'The Production of Copies of the Canterbury Tales and the Confessio Amantis in the Early Fifteenth Century' in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts, and Libraries: Essays Presented to N. R. Ker, ed. by M. B. Parkes and A. G. Watson, A. G. London: Scolar, 1978. Repr. in Scribes, Scripts and Readers: Studies in the Communication, Presentation and Dissemination of Medieval Texts. London: Hambledon Press, 1991.

Mooney, Linne R. 'Chaucer's Scribe'. Speculum: A Journal of Medieval Studies, 81 (2006).

Special Characters

The resource includes the searchable characters thorn (þ) and yogh (ȝ).

About the project

Late Medieval English Scribes was developed by The Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of York and the University of Oxford with technical development provided by The Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield. The Project Directors were Professor Linne Mooney, Dr Simon Horobin and Dr Estelle Stubbs. The project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

About the project


Search Late Medieval English Scribes

Source Types

  • Literary Manuscripts


  • Manuscript Descriptions


  • scribal cultures
  • medieval handwriting
  • Geoffrey Chaucer


  • English


  • Free

Time Period



Centre for Medieval Studies, University of York

Cite this page:

"Late Medieval English Scribes" Manuscripts Online (, version 1.0, 25 July 2024),