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Detailed record for Harley 2251

Author John Lydgate
Title Poems, imperfect
Origin England, S. E. (London)
Date c. 1460-c. 1483
Language English
Script Gothic cursive
Scribe John Multon
Decoration Initials in blue with red pen-flourishing including floral motifs. Coloured initials in blue. Paraphs in red.
Dimensions in mm 295 x 210 (225 x 105)
Official foliation ff. 293 (+ 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the beginning + 1 unfoliated leaf after f. 178 + 3 unfoliated paper flyleaves at the end)
Form Paper codex
Binding BM in-house. Dark green leather with blind tooling, 19th century; edges gilt and gauffered.
Provenance Probably written by John Multon, stationer (his will of 1475): his monogram of the letters 'val' surrounded by' Q[uod] and 'I d', which may refer to the John de Vale mentioned in Multon's will (see Christianson 1990).
Added marginal annotations in contemporary and later hands.
?Nycolas Skyn, 15th century: inscribed with his name (f. 9).
Added monogram, possibly 'QVAG' or 'QVAL', combined with 'I J' in blue, red and pink ink in the lower margin, 15th-16th century (f. 170).
John Stow (b. 1524/1525, d. 1605), historian: added notes in his hand (ff. 229, 257, 293v).
Inscribed 'Adam Andre', 16th century (f. 170v).
Richard Jones (d. 1722), bookseller: sold to Robert Harley (see Catalogue 1808-1812, p. 578).
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.
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 John Lydgate was born in 1371 and died in 1449.
Including poems on diet (f. 4v), human complexions and physiognomy (ff. 78v-79, 79-79v) and 'The Secrees of Old Philosoffres' (ff. 188v-224).
Folios missing after ff. 18, 123, 135, 178, 183, 260,
f. 273v is blank.
The foliation is probably original.
Catchwords written horizontally.
For a more detailed list of contents, see Catalogue 1808.
Select bibliography A Catalogue of the Harleian Manuscripts in the British Museum, 4 vols (London: Eyre and Strahan, 1808-12), II (1808), no. 2251.

Lydgate and Burgh's Secrees of old Philisoffres: A version of the 'Secreta Secretorum', ed. by Robert Steele, Early English Text Society, Extra Series, 66 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1894), p. xv.

Henry Noble McCracken, The Lydgate Canon: Appendix to the Philological Society's Transactions 1907-1909 (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co. for the Philological Society, 1908), pp. iii-xlvi (pp. x-xxii, xxiv-xxvii, xxix, xxxi, passim).

Cyril Ernest Wright, Fontes Harleiani: A Study of the Sources of the Harleian Collection of Manuscripts in the British Museum (London: British Museum, 1972), pp. 207, 319.

C. Paul Christianson, A Director of London Stationers and Book Artisans 1300-1500 (New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1990), p. 136.

Kathleen L. Scott, Later Gothic Manuscripts 1390-1490, A Survey of Manuscripts Illuminated in the British Isles, 6, 2 vols (London: Harvey Miller, 1996), II, p. 337.

Derek Pearsall, John Lydgate (1371-1449): A Bio-Bibliography (Victoria, B.C.: English Literary Studies, University of Victoria, 1997), p. 82.

Julia Boffey and A. S. G. Edwards, A New Index of Middle English Verse (London: British Library, 2005), p. 304.

Catalogued for the Harley Medical Manuscripts Project [], accessed 29 May 2008.

* * *
Decorated initial

f. 36v
Decorated initial
Added marginal annotation

f. 63
Added marginal annotation

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