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General Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 May 2024

Niamh Pattwell
Affiliation:
University College Dublin
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Summary

The Index of Middle English Prose project was launched at a conference in Cambridge in 1978 on the initiative of A. S. G. Edwards and Derek Brewer. At its inception, the aim of those involved was a publication analogous to Carleton Brown and Rossell H. Robbins's Index of Middle English Verse. But when Brown and Robbins published their seminal volume, more than three decades of manuscript study and indexing lay behind it; the editors, whatever the limitations of their product, had a hands-on knowledge of the materials they presented. At the time when a comparable index to present Middle English (ME) prose was conceived, such work had scarcely begun in this area.

Hence, as a first step, a number of scholars, working independently, undertook to identify relevant materials on a collection-by-collection basis. The results of these investigations, a listing of all ME prose items uncovered after careful searching, were to be presented in a sequence of stand-alone volumes or ‘handlists’ published by Boydell & Brewer. The first appeared in 1984, and the present volume is the 25th in the series. The main body of text in each volume identifies and contextualises, manuscript by manuscript, the ME prose material found in a given collection or collections. At the back of each volume are indexes derived from these descriptions. Those indexes will form the basis of the final, combined Index of Middle English Prose (IMEP).

The IMEP is concerned with material composed between c. 1200 and c. 1500. For the terminus a quo this means as a general rule that if a manuscript is not included in N. R. Ker's Catalogue of MSS Containing Anglo-Saxon, it is considered to be ME. In addition, we aim to include all later transcriptions of ME texts produced before 1600.

There have been adjustments in detail over the years, but the handlists now follow an established format. Each volume contains an introduction with a general account of the history, development and scale of the particular collection or collections described. This is followed by a summary list of the ME prose contents of the volume.

The relevant materials discovered in the manuscripts are presented in the order of the shelfmarks of the collection(s) described. Each entry begins with references to published descriptions of the manuscript in question. The ME prose items in the manuscript are then numbered and presented in sequential order.

Type
Chapter
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The Index of Middle English Prose
Manuscripts in Trinity College Library, Dublin
, pp. v - vi
Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2024

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  • General Introduction
  • Niamh Pattwell, University College Dublin
  • Book: The Index of Middle English Prose
  • Online publication: 08 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805433446.001
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  • General Introduction
  • Niamh Pattwell, University College Dublin
  • Book: The Index of Middle English Prose
  • Online publication: 08 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805433446.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • General Introduction
  • Niamh Pattwell, University College Dublin
  • Book: The Index of Middle English Prose
  • Online publication: 08 May 2024
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781805433446.001
Available formats
×