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2002 articles 1977 articles

The Malory manuscript

Lotte Hellinga and Hilton Kelliher


IN March 1976 the British Library purchased from the Warden and Fellows of Winchester College the famous manuscript of Sir Thomas Malory's English cycle of Arthurian tales, now numbered Additional MS. 59678. Almost immediately upon transfer to its new home the manuscript went on display in the Caxton quincentenary exhibition, held in the King's Library, next to the only complete copy known of Caxton's Morte d'Arthur (1485) that had been generously loaned for this purpose by the Pierpont Morgan Library of New York. A certain piquancy was added to their temporary conjunction here by the suggestion, then only recently put forward, that the two volumes had once before occupied premises together, namely Caxton's office at Westminster during the 1480s. The notes that follow present the evidence for this exciting possibility, disclose new information regarding the early history of the manuscript, and conclude with some random observations on its make-up and transcription. Needless to say, however, several promising avenues of investigation still remain to be explored.

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