A Catalogue of Vernacular Manuscript Books of the English West Midlands, c. 1300 - c. 1475
Manuscripts of the West Midlands is a catalogue of vernacular manuscript books of the English West Midlands, c. 1300-1475. It provides detailed descriptions of more than 150 manuscripts associated on linguistic grounds with the historic West Midlands counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and Worcestershire.
The manuscripts of the West Midlands have long been valuable resources for medieval English literary and book history. The region is associated with the production of crucially important vernacular books and texts and the manuscripts catalogued include some of the most significant surviving books of Middle English. Research has focused on individual manuscripts or small groups. However, together these manuscripts potentially offer a resource for investigation of regionalism and other issues in manuscript culture.
Manuscripts of the West Midlands aims to offer a research tool for systematic, large-scale, comparative analysis, to engage with the dynamics of manuscripts studies, and to experiment with the potential of computer applications to provide new kinds of research infrastructure.
This resource is of particular importance to scholars in manuscript studies, regional dialects and textual production, and medieval literary and cultural history more generally.
For each manuscript catalogued, information is provided on date, language, contents (title, incipit, explicit, bibliography), size, material, codicological structure, binding, page layout, scripts and hands, decoration, foliation, condition, and provenance. The catalogue may be browsed by manuscript location/shelfmarks, titles, people, or medieval bindings, or searched by keyword or IMEV and IPMEP numbers.
Dialect was chosen as the principle of selection in order to facilitate investigation into the geographies and histories of manuscript production. The inclusion of a manuscript in the catalogue does not mean that it was produced or used in the West Midlands, only that it includes texts composed or copied by scribes whose English was of the West Midlands variety.
Farnham, Rebecca. 'The Manuscripts of the West Midlands Catalogue Project', in Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the Medieval West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. by Wendy Scase. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007.
Scase, Wendy. 'Introduction', in Essays in Manuscript Geography: Vernacular Manuscripts of the Medieval West Midlands from the Conquest to the Sixteenth Century, ed. by Wendy Scase. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007.
The descriptions are based on secondary sources published up to and including 2005, checked and supplemented wherever possible by physical examination of the manuscripts. They are marked up in TEI XML.
The resource includes the searchable special characters thorn (þ, Þ) and yogh (ȝ, Ȝ).
The project is based in the Department of English at the University of Birmingham. Technical support is provided by the University of Birmingham Institute for Textual Studies and Electronic Editing. The project director is Professor Wendy Scase. The research for the catalogue was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.
University of Birmingham