The library of John Blacman represents the largest and most comprehensive collection of devotional and mystical writings known to have been owned by any individual in late medieval England. On that ground alone it would merit attention. Buthis library repays study for other reasons. Firstly it is possible to place it within a detailed context. We know a considerable amount about Blacman himself and this knowledge of the man is paralleled by our knowledge of his books. Our perception of the private libraries of late medieval England is normally based on bald lists of books, occasionally supplemented by a handful of surviving manuscripts. These lists are usually derived from wills, which can all too frequently be shown to be seriously defective as a complete record of the libraries concerned. And, in particular, such lists can give only a static and skeletal picture of the relationship between the books and their owners. However, in the case of Blacman's library, while our major source is indeed a list of his books, it is a list which is exceptionally revealing. To some extent this is because part of the list is more informative than usual in providing the complete contents, insteadof a single portmanteau title, for about a third of the books. Hence we can reconstruct the precise nature of a number of the composite volumes in the library. More important is the fact that we have, properly speaking, not This article began life, in very different form, as a paper given to the Exeter Conference on ‘The medieval mystical tradition in England’. I am much indebted to the kindness and forbearance of the editor of the conference proceedings, Miss Marion Glasscoe.