The Harley Scribe and Robert Thornton as Case Studies
In the study of medieval manuscripts, an individual scribe’s patterns of change may emerge as knowable, analysable features that display creative involvement. If, added to this circumstance, a single scrivener possesses a sizeable amount of surviving output, opportunities to know that scribe as an specific ‘author’ in the process of cumulative composition expand greatly. The study of vernacular literary manuscripts has now reached a point where many scribes with large and interesting oeuvres have been identified. By designating a new category, ‘literary scribe’, we can differentiate these special scribes from the many other unknowable copyists, and allow their oeuvres to be analysed in ways analogous to the criticism applied to authors. Case studies are provided for two important literary scribes: the Ludlow scribe who created British Library, MS Harley 2253, fols 49–140, and Robert Thornton of Yorkshire, who created Lincoln, Cathedral Library MS 91 and British Library, MS Additional 31042.
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