Curated by Anna-Nadine Pike
Any study of late-medieval literary texts cannot be separated from the manuscripts which contain them. If you are new to working with manuscripts, our Manuscript Studies section has guides and resources for working in the disciplines of palaeography (the study of scripts) and codicology (the study of the material codex). To understand how late-medieval writing systems and manuscripts evolved, make sure you look through the resources on our History of the Book page.
Most libraries will now have a digital catalogue of their manuscript collections, with increasing numbers of manuscript facsimiles available online. We have compiled a collection of digital manuscript collections from major libraries, which can be found here.
If you have a research question, but aren’t sure which manuscripts you might need to consult, then this page offers subject-specific databases, catalogues, and finding aids which group late-medieval literary manuscripts together by theme, date, author, or language, among others.
And as always, if you are in need of some advice finding the manuscripts you need, join our literature research forum.
Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700 An online adaptation and extension of the Index of English Literary Manuscripts 1450-1700, compiled by Peter Beal, detailing the literary manuscripts of 237 sixteenth- and -seventeenth British authors. While this date range does include some later-medieval work, it may also be worth visiting out Early Modern Literature page for further resources.
Late Medieval English Scribes An online catalogue of scribal hands that appear in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, John Gower, John Trevisa, William Langland and Thomas Hoccleve.
Manuscripts of the West Midlands A Catalogue of Vernacular Manuscript Books of the English West Midlands, c. 1300 - c. 1475 (University of Birmingham).
Medieval Libraries of Great Britain A searchable digital resource which groups manuscripts according to the medieval library with which they are associated, while also noting their present-day holding. The resource brings together two physical resources, the Corpus of British Medieval Library Catalogues, and Neil Ker’s Royal Historical Society handbook, Medieval Libraries of Great Britain.
Medieval Manuscripts in Oxford Libraries A digital catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Library, and some Oxford colleges, organised by collection and searchable by shelf-mark. Each text and author described within the manuscript is also cross-referenced, detailing other manuscripts in which the same text or author appears.
Medieval Manuscripts on the Web A resource curated by Siân Echard (University of British Columbia), bringing together a list, alphabetised by country, of previous or current manuscript digitisation projects, with a short description for each. The list also includes links to several online palaeographical resources, including DigiPal and InScribe.
Re-imagining History 2.0 This is a spreadsheet of MSS of the Middle English Prose Brut (the Middle English text with most extant copies other than the Wycliffite Bible).
Can't find what you are looking for? Need some research advice?
Our Middle English Literature forum connects you to an online scholarly community of researchers who will be happy to help with reading recommendations, sourcing texts, and more.
Click below to join...
Resource page updated by Anna-Nadine Pike - last updated 25/01/22