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Detailed record for Harley 2376

Author William Langland
Title Piers Plowman (the 'C' (N) text)
Origin England, W. (South-East of Herefordshire, around Ross-on-Wye)
Date 1st half of the 15th century
Language English (South-East Herefordshire dialect, see Black 1993 and Black 1998)
Script Gothic (Anglicana)
Decoration Numerous large initials in red ink with purple penwork decoration, with oak leaves in red ink decorating the rubric (f. 1). Rubric on a scroll drawn in red ink (f. 51). Parts of the text framed in red ink, sometimes with some penwork. Catchwords on scrolls decorated with red and brown ink. Initials marked with red.
Dimensions in mm 220 x 140 (195 x 120)
Official foliation ff. 124 (+ 2 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning and 3 at the end)
Form Parchment codex
Binding Post-1600. 'Harleian' binding of gold-tooled red leather; marbled endpapers.
Provenance A few annotations and corrections in a ?16th century hand.
Partly effaced inscription, 15th century (f. 12v).
Added manicula, ?15th century.
Inscribed with an illegible name and the date October 4th, 1544 (f. 86).
Nathaniel Noel (fl. 1681, d. c. 1753), bookseller, employed by Edward Harley for buying books and manuscripts chiefly on the Continent, where his agent was George Suttie (see Wright 1972): sold to Edward Harley on 13 August 1724.
The Harley Collection, formed by Robert Harley (b. 1661, d. 1724), 1st earl of Oxford and Mortimer, politician, and Edward Harley (b. 1689, d. 1741), 2nd earl of Oxford and Mortimer, book collector and patron of the arts, inscribed as usual by their librarian, Humfrey Wanley ‘13 August, A.D. 1724’ (f. 1).
Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta Cavendish, née Holles (b. 1694, d. 1755) during her lifetime and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck (b. 1715, d. 1785), duchess of Portland; the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess in 1753 to the nation for £10,000 (a fraction of their contemporary value) under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum; the Harley manuscripts form one of the foundation collections of the British Library.
Notes Leaf signatures. Catchwords.
Pricking holes.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 2376.

R. W. Chambers, ‘The Manuscripts of Piers Plowman in the Huntington Library, and their value for Fixing the Text of the Poem’, The Huntington Library Bulletin 8 (1935), 1-27 (p. 22).

The Diary of Humfrey Wanley 1715-1726, ed. by C. E. Wright and Ruth C. Wright, 2 vols (London: Bibliographical Society, 1966), II: 1723-1726, p. 307 n. 2.

C. E. Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 253, 255.

William Langland, Piers Plowman: a parallel-text edition of the A, B, C and Z versions, ed. by A. V. C. Schmidt (London: Longman, 1995).

Merja Black, 'Studies in the Dialect Materials of Medieval Herefordshire', (unpublished doctoral thesis, University of Glasgow, 1997), pp. 105-09.

Merja Black, 'A Scribal Translation of Piers Plowman', Medium Aevum, 67 (1998), 257-90.

Piers Plowman: the C Version. Will's Visions of Piers Plowman, Do-Well, Do-Better and Do-Best. An Edition in the Form of the Huntington Library MS HM 143, Corrected and Restored from the Known Evidence, with Variant Readings, ed. by George Russell and George Kane (London: the Athlone Press, 1998), p. 9.

Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards, A New Index of Middle English Verse (London: British Library, 2005), p. 100, no. 1459, 'C' version.

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Decorated initial

f. 1
Decorated initial

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