Friday, November 05, 2010

John Paston's Books

Recently, when the family medievalist finally abandoned his university office and retired to a study at home, we transported boxes and boxes and boxes of books to a charity which runs secondhand book fairs. We both still have large studies packed to the gunwales with shelves of books. Naturally, in the 15th century when nearly every book was written out by hand, readers and book owners had to be much more selective.
In keeping with my recent trend of putting up on the website examples of horrible messy handwriting of truly interesting content, the last script sample and paleography exercise are a list of books written out by John Paston II in the late 1470s. They comprised his personal library. This funny scrap is part of the famous collection of Paston Letters in the British Library, so it is famous. As well as being in a script that is like cod liver oil, nasty but good for you, it sheds a little light on that whole topic of medieval literacy and the valuation of books. Enjoy it even if you can't read it.
I will get back to the mulberry tree, promise. I'm sure you are as fascinated by it as I am.

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