Middle English Literature

Many works listed in section M: English Literature/General are important to research in Middle English literature.

Research Methods

General Guides


Powell, James M., ed. Medieval Studies: An Introduction. 2nd ed. Syracuse: Syracuse UP, 1992. 438 pp. D116.M4 940.1′072.

A collection of introductions to research in Latin paleography, diplomatics, numismatics, archaeology, prosopography, computer-assisted analysis of statistical documents, chronology, English literature (with some inaccuracies and errors of judgment in the discussions of reference works), Latin philosophy, law, science and natural philosophy, art, and music. Each essay outlines the historical development of its field, identifies major reference tools and important studies, explains research methods, and ends with a selective bibliography. Indexed by authors and anonymous works. Although addressed to “the beginner in medieval studies,” the volume offers expert orientations to research in unfamiliar fields. Review: Charles T. Wood, Speculum 68.2 (1993): 554–55.



Clemens, Raymond, and Timothy Graham. Introduction to Manuscript Studies. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2007. 301 pp. Z105.C58 091.

An introduction to the paleography and codicology of Western European medieval manuscripts, primarily those in Latin. The first part explains how manuscripts were made, with attention to paper and skins; assembling the quires; the scribe’s tools; writing, decorating, correcting, and glossing the text; and assembling, binding, and storing the manuscript. The second part treats the reading of a manuscript, with discussion of transcription (including valuable advice on preparing to visit a library and discussion of the tools of the paleographer), punctuation, abbreviation, working with damaged manuscripts, determining provenance, describing a manuscript, and recognizing selected hands (with tables of distinctive letters, ligatures, and abbreviations). The third part describes some of the commonly encountered genres, such as bibles, books of hours, cartularies, and maps. An appendix by Anders Winroth identifies important tools for the study of medieval Latin. The clear, detailed explanations accompanied by a plethora of aptly chosen illustrations make Introduction to Manuscript Studies essential reading for scholars embarking on the study of medieval manuscripts. Review: A. S. G. Edwards, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 16 May 2008: 16.


A Guide to Editing Middle English. Ed. Vincent P. McCarren and Douglas Moffat. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1998. 338 pp. PR275.T45 G85 820.9′001.

A collection of essays that treat practical aspects of editing Middle English manuscripts. Although addressed to the neophyte, few experienced editors will fail to benefit from the discussions of such topics as editing methods, parallel texts, using sources, annotating a text, preparing a glossary, electronic editions, and editing kinds of literary and nonliterary manuscripts. Of particular importance for both students and aspiring editors is the admirably straightforward “Practical Guide to Working with Middle English Manuscripts.” Indexed by subjects. Written by many of the top Middle English scholars, Guide to Editing Middle English stands as a model for the kind of guide needed for other periods and will—if thoroughly studied by aspiring editors—accomplish its goal of “rais[ing] the standard of scholarly editing for Middle English texts.” Review: Eric Eliason, Text: An Interdisciplinary Annual of Textual Studies 13 (2000): 277–83.

This work supersedes Charles Moorman, Editing the Middle English Manuscript (Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1975; 107 pp.).

For a convenient (and effectively illustrated) guide to terminology, see Michelle P. Brown, Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts: A Guide to Technical Terms (Malibu: Getty Museum–British Lib., 1994; 127 pp.).


Johnson, Charles, and Hilary Jenkinson. English Court Hand, A. D. 1066 to 1500, Illustrated Chiefly from the Public Records. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1915. Z115.E5 J6 421′.7.

A manual for those learning to read English court hand. Vol. 1 traces the evolution of the hand, outlines methods of abbreviations (with a helpful list of common ones), offers practical hints on transcription, provides a selected bibliography, traces the development of individual forms (with valuable dated illustrations of letters, runes, abbreviations, signs, numerals, and other marks), and concludes with extensively annotated transcriptions of the plates in vol. 2. The detailed illustrations of various forms make this the best introduction to court hand and an essential companion for those who work with medieval English documents.

Hands from the fifteenth through seventeenth centuries are described and illustrated in Jenkinson, Later Court Hands in England (entry M1965).


Parkes, M. B. English Cursive Book Hands, 1250–1500. Corrected rpt. Berkeley: U of California P, 1980. 26 pp. Oxford Palaeographical Handbooks. Z115.E5 P37 745.6′1.

Wright, C. E. English Vernacular Hands from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Centuries. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1960. 24 pp. Oxford Palaeographical Handbooks. Z115.E5 W7 421.7.

Each work prints a series of plates with accompanying transcriptions and notes that illustrate the different types of hands used in England for writing books. The plates are arranged chronologically to show the development of each hand. Although lacking a discussion of abbreviations used by scribes, Parkes and Wright are convenient sources for identifying and learning to read the hands used for writing the majority of Middle English literary manuscripts. Reviews: (Parkes) Ruth J. Dean, Speculum 46.1 (1971): 177–80; (Wright) A. I. Doyle, Medium Ævum 30.1 (1961): 117–20.

Parkes and Wright are complemented by Jane Roberts, Guide to Scripts Used in English Writings up to 1500 (London: British Lib., 2005; 294 pp.), which includes Old English scripts.

See also

Jenkinson, Later Court Hands in England (M1965).

Guides to Scholarship

Braswell, Laurel Nichols. Western Manuscripts from Classical Antiquity to the Renaissance: A Handbook. New York: Garland, 1981. 382 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 139. Z105.B73 091.

A selective annotated bibliography of reference works and scholarship (published through the late 1970s) on the identification, study, and editing of early manuscripts from the ninth through the mid-fifteenth centuries, principally in Romance and Germanic languages, with particular attention to medieval English literary and scientific manuscripts. The 2,074 entries are listed alphabetically in 15 classified sections: bibliographies, libraries, microforms, incipits, subjects, paleography, diplomatics and archives, fragments and booklets, decoration and illumination, music, codicology, reference works, contexts of manuscripts, journals, and textual criticism. Although importance is the main criterion determining selection, a number of works of dubious value are admitted, and there are some notable omissions. The descriptive annotations are neither as precise nor as accurate as they might be, but there are some judicious brief evaluations. Indexed by persons and anonymous titles. Despite the errors and some lack of balance among sections, Braswell is a serviceable basic guide to scholarship on early manuscripts. Reviews: Revilo P. Oliver, Classical Journal 78.4 (1983): 367–69; Germaine Warkentin, University of Toronto Quarterly 52.4 (1983): 403–04.

Histories and Surveys

The best guides to earlier literary histories and surveys are Robert W. Ackerman, “Middle English Literature to 1400,” pp. 73–123 in Fisher, Medieval Literature of Western Europe (entry M1830), and John H. Fisher, “English Literature,” pp. 1–54 in Cooke, The Present State of Scholarship in Fourteenth-Century Literature (M1830a).

For an account of the emergence of Middle English studies as a scholarly discipline, see David Matthews, The Making of Middle English, 1765–1910 (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999; 231 pp.; Medieval Cultures 18).


The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature. Ed. David Wallace. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 1,043 pp. New Cambridge Hist. of English Lit. PR255.C35 820.9′001. Online through Cambridge Histories Online (http://histories.cambridge.org).

A collaborative history of “literature composed or transmitted in the British Isles between 1066 and 1547.” Although separately authored, the 31 chapters are designed to offer a continuous narrative (but not a grand récit) and attend to the conditions of the production and reception of a wide range of works. Unlike so many recent multiauthored literary histories, this one has a chronology and bibliography; unfortunately, the layout of the former makes it difficult to compare literary and historical events, and the lack of any topical organization in the bibliography of secondary works leaves a reader with 73 pages to skim. Two indexes: manuscripts; persons, subjects, and titles of anonymous works (only the index of manuscripts is included in the online version). Including contributions by many of the leading medieval scholars, Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature has exerted substantial influence on the study of medieval British literature. Review: Tom Shippey, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 14 May 1999: 18–19.


Simpson, James. 1350–1547: Reform and Cultural Revolution. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2002. 661 pp. Vol. 2 of The Oxford English Literary History (M1310a). Jonathan Bate, gen. ed. PR85.O96 820.9.

In a literary history of the progression from medieval to early modern, this work emphasizes the centralization of language and literature in chapters on genres and social, political, and religious contexts. Concludes with a series of author bibliographies and a selected bibliography; both omit many important works. Indexed by persons, subjects, and anonymous works. Because of the short shrift accorded several important authors and works (e.g., Thomas More and John Skelton), Simpson does not supplant the other literary histories in this section or Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama (M1975).


Bennett, H. S. Chaucer and the Fifteenth Century. Corrected rpt. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1979. 348 pp. Vol. 2, pt. 1 of The Oxford History of English Literature (M1310). John Buxton and Norman Davis, gen. eds. (Reprinted in 1990 as vol. 2, with the title Chaucer and Fifteenth-Century Verse and Prose.) PR255.B43 821.17.

A critical history with chapters on fourteenth-century London, Chaucer, religion, the intellectual background, author-audience relationships, verse, and prose, as well as a chronology and selective bibliography (now outdated). Indexed by authors, anonymous works, and subjects. (The corrected reprint makes only minor corrections to the text of the 1947 edition but provides a much better index and updates the bibliography to c. 1970.) Bennett is an important history, although reviewers have argued with some interpretations and justifiably faulted the division of coverage between this volume and Chambers, English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages (M1790)—a division that, for example, isolates Chaucer from his contemporaries. Reviews: Times Literary Supplement 17 Apr. 1948: 221; Francis Lee Utley, Speculum 26.2 (1951): 370–75.


Bennett, J. A. W. Middle English Literature. Ed. and completed by Douglas Gray. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1986. 496 pp. Vol. 1., pt. 2 of The Oxford History of English Literature (M1310). John Buxton and Norman Davis, gen. eds. (Reprinted in 1990 as vol. 1, with the title Middle English Literature, 1100–1400.) PR255.B45 820′.9′001.

A critical history organized in chapters devoted to genres and major authors: pastoral and comedy, didactic and homiletic verse, Layamon, romances, poems of the Gawain manuscript, prose, lyrics, Gower, and Langland. Concludes with a chronology and selected bibliography through 1984 (but the latter excludes some important works). Indexed by persons and works. Although the volume lacks any synthesis and gives little attention to historical and intellectual contexts, most chapters offer substantial—and, depending on one’s perspective, occasionally brilliant or opinionated—discussions of major authors and works. Middle English Literature is one of the standard works on the period. Reviews: Charles Blyth, Essays in Criticism 37.4 (1987): 321–29; A. J. Minnis, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 6 Feb. 1987: 140; A. C. Spearing, Yearbook of Langland Studies 2 (1988): 155–59.


Chambers, E. K. English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages. 2nd impression with corrections. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1947. 247 pp. Vol. 2, pt. 2 of The Oxford History of English Literature (M1310). F. P. Wilson and Bonamy Dobrée, gen. eds. (Reprinted in 1990 as vol. 3, with the title Malory and Fifteenth-Century Drama, Lyrics, and Ballads.) PR291.C5 820.902.

Unlike other volumes of the Oxford History of English Literature (M1310), Chambers comprises four independent essays on the drama (an updated distillation of his Mediaeval Stage [M1905]), the carol and fifteenth-century lyric, popular narrative poetry and the ballad, and Malory. Concludes with a selective bibliography (now outdated). Indexed by authors, anonymous works, and subjects. Although composed of erudite, balanced discussions, the volume does not offer a literary history of the period. This and Bennett, Chaucer and the Fifteenth Century (M1780), have been justifiably faulted for the division of coverage. Reviews: A. C. Baugh, JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology 46.3 (1947): 304–07; Beatrice White, Modern Language Review 41.4 (1946): 426–28.

See also

Sec. M: English Literature/General/Histories and Surveys.

Literary Handbooks, Dictionaries, and Encyclopedias


Dictionary of the Middle Ages. Ed. Joseph R. Strayer. 13 vols. New York: Scribner’s, 1982–89. Supplement 1. Ed. William Chester Jordan. New York: Scribner’s–Gale, 2004. 722 pp. D114.D5 909.07.

Covers the intellectual, ecclesiastical, political, and literary history, material culture, and geography of “the Latin West, the Slavic World, Asia Minor, the lands of the caliphate in the East, and the Muslim-Christian areas of North Africa” from the period 500 to 1500. The approximately 5,000 entries, ranging from brief identifications and definitions to major articles by established scholars, treat places, persons, art works, events, literary forms and genres, national literatures, and a variety of miscellaneous topics. Brief bibliographies, largely confined to English-language scholarship, conclude most entries. Errata to all volumes are printed in vol. 13, pp. 607–13. The best approach to persons and subjects is through the detailed index (vol. 13). There is an occasional imbalance in the treatment of similar topics, but readable discussions and solid scholarship make this a useful source of quick information and basic surveys. The Supplement emphasizes topics that have emerged since the 1970s, new evidence about old topics, and areas outside northwestern Europe; its selective bibliographies include more works in languages other than English. Complemented by Lexikon des Mittelalters (M1800), which is more scholarly but less broad in coverage. Reviews: Charles T. Wood, Speculum 60.4 (1985): 967–71; 66.1 (1991): 147–49.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. Robert E. Bjork, 4 vols. (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010; online through Oxford Reference [I530]), covers the same chronological period and geographic area, offers approximately the same number of entries, but claims to be more balanced in geographic and topical coverage than any other English-language dictionary of the period. Two indexes: thematic (vol. 1); persons and subjects (vol. 4). Readers should note the shortcomings identified by Ian Mortimer (TLS: Times Literary Supplement 21 Jan. 2011: 24), who finds the work marked by “intellectual confusion.”


Lexikon des Mittelalters Online (LexMA). Brepolis. Brepols, n.d. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://www.brepolis.net>.

International Encyclopedia for the Middle Ages: A Supplement to LexMa Online (IEMA). Brepolis. Brepols, n.d. 21 Mar. 2013. <http://www.brepolis.net>.

Lexikon des Mittelalters. 10 vols. München: Lexma, 1977–99. D101.5.L49 940.1′05.

A dictionary of the history and culture of the Middle Ages in Europe and parts of North Africa and the Middle East from c. 300 to c. 1500. Lexikon des Mittelalters Online reproduces the entries in the original Lexikon des Mittelalters; adds searchable and browsable lists of authors, categories, and headwords (in English or German for the last two); adds links to BREPOLiS Medieval Bibliographies (M1835); allows for keyword searches of the entire text (except the bibliographies appended to entries); and lets users download or print articles. Entries, ranging from brief definitions or identifications to lengthy articles by an international group of scholars, treat individuals, works, forms and genres, material culture, places, and events. Each concludes with a brief bibliography. (In the online version, users must click the Consult Select Bibliography link to view the citations.) The extensive use of symbols and abbreviations makes for slow reading, and there is some imbalance in the treatment of similar topics. Three indexes: subjects (subdivided; see, e.g., Englische Sprache und Literatur subdivision); cross-references; contributors.

The online version supersedes the CD-ROM (ed. Charlotte Bretscher-Gisiger and Thomas Meier [Coron, 2000]). Lexikon des Mittelalters is being supplemented in English by International Encyclopedia for the Middle Ages, which covers the same geographic area from 500 to 1500.

Authoritative and scholarly, Lexikon des Mittelalters, International Encyclopedia for the Middle Ages, and Dictionary of the Middle Ages (M1795) provide medievalists with essential information on a wide range of topics. Review: (vol. 1.1–5) Joseph R. Strayer, Speculum 55.3 (1980): 627–28.

Bibliographies of Bibliographies


Rouse, Richard H. Serial Bibliographies for Medieval Studies. Berkeley: U of California P, 1969. 150 pp. Pubs. of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies 3. Z6203.R66 016.016914′03′1.

A classified, descriptive guide to 294 current and defunct serial bibliographies covering medieval studies from the advent of Christianity to c. 1500. Rouse omits standard general indexes and national bibliographies but includes bibliographic essays, lists of contents of recent periodicals, accessions lists of special libraries, and reports of work in progress. Entries are classified in 11 divisions: general bibliographies; national and regional bibliographies; Byzantine, Islamic, and Judaic studies; archival and auxiliary studies; art and archaeology; ecclesiastical history; economic, social, and institutional history; intellectual history; literature and linguistics; music; science, technology, and medicine. Since the description of each bibliography is based primarily on a single volume published between 1964 and 1967, variations in scope, editorial policy, and organization are not always noted. An asterisk denotes an important work. Two indexes: title; editor. Although dated, Rouse remains useful for identifying essential serial bibliographies outside the field of literature (for which Wortman, Guide to Serial Bibliographies [G325], generally provides more thorough coverage).

See also

Sec. D: Bibliographies of Bibliographies.

Guides to Primary Works



Ker, N. R., and A. J. Piper. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. 5 vols. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1969–2002. Z6620.G7 K4 011.

A catalog of manuscripts written before c. 1500 in Latin or Western European languages and held in public collections that have not been previously or adequately cataloged. Thus Ker does not include private collections or major libraries (such as the British Library or the Bodleian), although researchers are directed to the standard catalogs of institutional collections. Vol. 1 covers London; vols. 2–4 list collections alphabetically by city; vol. 5 (ed. I. C. Cunningham and A. G. Watson) includes addenda and 11 indexes (authors, subjects, and titles; other names; Bibles; liturgies; iconography; languages other than Latin; origins and dates of manuscripts; secundo folios; incipits; repertories cited; manuscripts cited [some of the preceding are subdivided]). The detailed descriptions of uncataloged items—informed by Ker’s incomparable knowledge of medieval manuscripts—include short title; date; contents; bibliographical, paleographical, and codicological information; and provenance. (Manuscripts adequately described elsewhere receive summary treatment and references to published catalogs.) Besides making known for the first time a number of manuscripts, Medieval Manuscripts is an invaluable source for finding iconographic and paleographical information, identifying texts and provenance, and locating manuscripts. One of the truly great catalogs. Reviews: (vol. 2) Christopher de Hamel, Medium Ævum 50.1 (1981): 101–04; Jean F. Preston, Review 1 (1979): 223–31; (vols. 3–4) Book Collector 41.2 (1992): 161–79.


Ricci, Seymour de. Census of Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts in the United States and Canada. 3 vols. New York: Wilson, 1935–40. C. U. Faye and W. H. Bond. Supplement. New York: Bibliog. Soc. of Amer., 1962. 626 pp. Z6620.U5 R5.

Conway, Melissa, and Lisa Fagin Davis. Directory of Institutions in the United States and Canada with Pre-1600 Manuscript Holdings. BibSite. Bibliog. Soc. of Amer., 2012. 23 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bibsocamer.org/BibSite/Conway-Davis/Pre-1600.Mss.Holdings.pdf>.

Essentially a finding list of Western manuscripts before 1600 owned by institutions and private collectors. Except for Greek and Latin papyri, the work includes all written documents, but because of their number, letters, charters, and deeds are usually not described separately. Entries are organized alphabetically by state, then by city, then by institution or collector; Canadian listings appear in vol. 2, pp. 2201–38, and are followed by a lengthy list of errata and corrections (vol. 2, pp. 2239–343). Since Ricci is not intended to be a definitive catalog and since many descriptions are supplied by owners, an entry provides only basic information: author, title or incipit, brief physical description, place of composition, provenance, and references to scholarship. Vol. 3 is made up of six indexes (general index of names, titles, and headings; scribes, illuminators, and cartographers; incipits; Gregory numbers for Greek New Testament manuscripts; present owners; previous owners) but does not include the planned lists of unlocated manuscripts or those held by dealers. The Supplement (compiled almost exclusively from questionnaires) adds new manuscripts, records changes in ownership, and prints corrections. Ricci’s notes for his unfinished Bibliotheca Britannica Manuscripta—a companion to the Census—are available in Seymour de Ricci Bibliotheca Britannica Manuscripta Digitized Archive (http://sceti.library.upenn.edu/dericci/index.html), a searchable database.

Directory of Institutions—the first installment of a continuation of the Census and Supplement—updates the location of institutions, identifies institutions that no longer hold pre-1600 manuscripts or that have changed names, and adds 281 repositories; it does not include modern private collections. The three works offer an important starting point for locating manuscripts in collections that have not been fully cataloged and for tracing provenance.

A major desideratum is a descriptive catalog (such as Ker and Piper, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries [M1810]) for medieval manuscripts in North American collections—a need that might be met if institutions adopt the Electronic Access to Medieval Manuscripts (EAMMS) guidelines for cataloging manuscripts and contribute the records to WorldCat (E225). For a discussion of the latter and an assessment of the Census and Supplement, see Gregory A. Pass, “Electrifying Research in Medieval and Renaissance Manuscripts,” Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 94.4 (2000): 507–30.

Printed Works


Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke (GKW). Vols. 1–7. 2nd ed. 1968. Vols. 8– . Stuttgart: Hiersemann, 1972– . (The second edition reprints, with additions and corrections, the volumes published 1925–38.) Z240.G39. <http://www.gesamtkatalogderwiegendrucke.de/GWEN.html>.

An analytical bibliography that attempts to describe every extant edition printed in fifteenth-century Europe. Listed alphabetically by author or title of anonymous work, the detailed entries include author, short title, editor, translator, corrector, commentator, place of printing, printer, publisher, date, format, collation, notes on typography, transcription of title and colophon, contents, references to standard bibliographies, and locations of copies. (See vol. 8 for a description in English [pp. *101–08], German, French, Russian, and Italian of the parts of an entry; an updated version appears on the Help page of the GKW Web site.) Vols. 1–7 locate no more than 10 copies, but the later ones attempt a complete census. Since the editors must frequently work from photographic copies, format and collation are not always accurately described, and there are errors in the identification of printers. For the history of GKW and discussions of editorial procedure, see the essays in Zur Arbeit mit dem Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke (Berlin: Deutsche Staatsbibliothek, 1989; 155 pp.; Beiträge aus der Deutschen Staatsbibliothek 9). Although the prewar volumes now need revision, GKW is an essential source for identifying editions (and their contents and sometimes complex textual relationships), authors, and printers; for localizing and dating books; and for locating copies. Reviews: John L. Flood, Library 5th ser. 30.4 (1975): 339–44; Lotte Hellinga, Library 6th ser. 13.3 (1991): 268–71; Paul Needham, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 15 Aug. 1980: 922.

The online GKW is very much a work-in-progress. Currently the database is divided into two parts: A–H, which is an updated version of the print edition, and I–Z, which represents the working copy for the bibliography (for the status of the database consult the page A Work in Progress). Because the search engine allows only literal searches (i.e., it is case sensitive and requires diacritics), users must consult the Help file before attempting a search. The database currently has five search interfaces: Advanced (which allows keyword searches of the full text and the record fields [e.g., author, format, printer, collation, date, locations]); Printer, Place, and Date (with pull-down lists of the first two); Bibliography; Second Quires; Place of Printing. In addition, users can search indexes of authors, GKW numbers, personal names, printers (by city), titles, short titles, incipits, second quires, locations (by city), holdings (by city, then institution), and bibliography (by siglum). Users who take the time to master the search interfaces will be able to manipulate in sophisticated ways the massive amount of data in GKW.

Even when GKW is complete, existing general bibliographies of incunabula will remain valuable complements, especially for their fuller information on individual copies. Among the most important of these bibliographies are the following:

  • Bayerische Staatsbibliothek Inkunabelkatalog (BSB-Ink). Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1988–2005. Review: (vol. 1) John Goldfinch, Library 6th ser. 13 (1991): 275–78.

  • Catalogue des incunables. 2 vols. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1981– . Review: M. C. Davies, Library 7th ser. 9.2 (2008): 225–28.

  • Catalogue of Books Printed in the XVth Century Now in the British Library. Gay-Houten: HES and DeGraff, 1908–2007. (Title varies.) Reviews: David McKitterick, TLS: Times Literary Supplement 30 Mar. 2007: 7–8; Bettina Wagner, Library 7th ser. 9.2 (2008): 197–209.

  • Goff, Frederick R., comp. and ed. Incunabula in American Libraries: A Third Census of Fifteenth-Century Books Recorded in North American Collections. New York: Bibliog. Soc. of Amer., 1964. 798 pp. Supplement. 1972. 104 pp. A photographic reprint of Goff’s annotated copy was published by Kraus in 1973. Although the annotated copy served as the working copy for the Supplement, the latter does not include Goff’s notes on dealers’ and auction prices. The entries, along with substantial additions and corrections, are incorporated into the ISTC database (see below).

  • Hain, Ludwig. Repertorium Bibliographicum, in Quo Libri Omnes ab Arte Typographica Inventa usque ad Annum MD. Typis Expressi Ordine Alphabetico vel Simpliciter Enumerantur vel Adcuratius Recensentur. 2 vols. in 4 pts. Stuttgart: Cotta; Paris: Lutetiae, 1826–38. The work is indexed by K. Burger, Ludwig Hain’s Repertorium Bibliographicum: Register (Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1891; 427 pp.; Zentralblatt für Bibliothekswesen 8). Copinger, W. A. Supplement to Hain’s Repertorium Bibliographicum . 2 pts. Berlin: Altmann, 1926 (with index by Konrad Burger).

  • Incunabula Short-Title Catalogue (ISTC). British Library. British Lib., n.d. 23 Nov. 2012. <http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/istc/index.html>. An online catalog that intends to record every copy of every extant edition. Although the database is currently the single most comprehensive list of incunabula, entries are based largely on printed catalogs and do not provide the detail of GKW. The Search screen allows for searching by keyword, author, title, place of publication, printer, bibliographical reference, ISTC number, format, locations of copies, date, language, and British Library shelf mark; the preceding fields can also be combined. In addition, all fields can be browsed. Many titles in the database are being reproduced in microfiche in Incunabula: The Printing Revolution in Europe, 1455–1500 (Woodbridge: Primary Source Microfilm, 1992– ).

  • Proctor, Robert. An Index to the Early Printed Books in the British Museum: From the Invention of Printing to the Year 1500. With Notes of Those in the Bodleian Library. London: Holland, 1960. 908 pp. A convenient reprint of the original two volumes and four supplements, 1898–1906.

  • Reichling, Dietrich. Appendices ad Hainii-Copingeri Repertorium Bibliographicum: Additiones et Emendationes. 6 fascicles and index. München: Rosenthal, 1905–11. Supplement. Monasterii Guestphalorum, 1914. 109 pp.

See also

English Short Title Catalogue (M1377).

Pollard and Redgrave, Short-Title Catalogue (M1990).

Severs, Hartung, and Beidler, Manual of the Writings in Middle English (M1825).

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Surveys of Research


Severs, J. Burke, Albert E. Hartung, and Peter G. Beidler, gen. eds. A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1500. 12 vols. New Haven: Connecticut Acad. of Arts and Sciences, 1967– . PR255.M3 016.820′9′001.

  • Vol. 1: Romances. 1967. (Supplemented by Joanne A. Rice, Middle English Romance: An Annotated Bibliography, 1955–1985 [New York: Garland, 1987; 626 pp.; Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 545], although there are numerous omissions of studies published outside the United States.)

  • Vol. 2: Pearl Poet; Wyclyf and His Followers; Translations and Paraphrases of the Bible, and Commentaries; Saints’ Legends; Instructions for Religious. 1970.

  • Vol. 3: Dialogues, Debates, and Catechisms; Thomas Hoccleve; Malory and Caxton. 1972.

  • Vol. 4: Middle Scots Writers; Chaucerian Apocrypha. 1973.

  • Vol. 5: Dramatic Pieces [miracle, mystery, morality, and folk plays]; Poems Dealing with Contemporary Conditions. 1975.

  • Vol. 6: Carols; Ballads; John Lydgate. 1980. (See A. S. G. Edwards, “Additions and Corrections to the Bibliography of John Lydgate,” Notes and Queries ns 32 [1985]: 450–52.)

  • Vol. 7: John Gower; Piers Plowman; Travel and Geographical Writings; Works of Religious and Philosophical Instruction. 1986.

  • Vol. 8: Chronicles and Other Historical Writings. 1989.

  • Vol. 9: Proverbs, Precepts, and Monitory Pieces; English Mystical Writings; Tales. 1993.

  • Vol. 10: Works of Science and Information. 1998.

  • Vol. 11: Sermons and Homilies; Lyrics of MS Harley 2253. 2005.

Chapters are planned for letters, legal writings, lyrics, and miscellaneous prose.

The work is a survey of scholarship and bibliography that revises and expands John Edwin Wells, A Manual of the Writings in Middle English, 1050–1400 (New Haven: Connecticut Acad. of Arts and Sciences, 1916; 941 pp.), and its nine supplements (1919–51). Each chapter (and sometimes sections thereof) has two parts: (1) the commentary, which for each work discusses content, manuscripts, date, dialect, source, and form and summarizes scholarship and critical trends; (2) a classified bibliography (with sections for manuscripts, editions, textual matters, language, versification, date, authorship, sources, literary criticism, and bibliography). Many entries are briefly annotated. Coverage is less thorough in vols. 1–3 (“all serious studies down through 1955 . . . and all important studies from 1955 to” one or two years before publication); the later volumes strive to include “all serious studies” up to one or two years before publication. (See the preface to each volume—especially vol. 5—for specific terminal dates.) Reviewers have, however, noted a number of omissions in some chapters; and following Wells’s organization while expanding his scope has led to some inconsistent groupings in chapters. Indexed by authors, titles, early printers, and subjects; a master index is planned upon completion. Although the early chapters are now dated and some works and authors are now more exhaustively treated in separate bibliographies, Severs, Hartung, and Beidler remains an indispensable starting point for most research in medieval literature. Reviews: (vol. 1) Norman Davis, Review of English Studies ns 21.81 (1970): 72–74; (vol. 2) Anne Hudson, Medium Ævum 43.2 (1974): 199–201; (vol. 3) Davis, Review of English Studies ns 25.97 (1974): 67–69; (vol. 4) Davis, Review of English Studies ns 26.103 (1975): 325–27; (vol. 5) Hudson, Yearbook of English Studies 9 (1979): 361–62.


Fisher, John H., ed. The Medieval Literature of Western Europe: A Review of Research, Mainly 1930–1960. New York: New York UP for MLA; London: U of London P, 1966. 432 pp. Revolving Fund Ser. 22. PN671.F5 809.02.

Surveys of research from c. 1930 to c. 1964 on medieval Latin, Old English, Middle English (to 1400), French, German, Old Norse, Italian, Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, and Celtic literatures. Addressed to advanced graduate students and scholars not specializing in the literatures, chapters typically examine bibliographical and reference works; background, language, and general studies; literary histories; and research on major forms, works, and authors. (The essay “Middle English Literature to 1400” [pp. 73–123], by Robert W. Ackerman, has sections for bibliographies, general and background studies, works of religious instruction, mysticism, translations and didactic works, poetry, romance, drama, Piers Plowman, Chaucer, and Gower.) Indexed by scholars and authors. Although now badly dated, Medieval Literature of Western Europe is still useful for its sensible evaluations of important studies published during the period. Review: A. A. Heathcote, Johanna H. Torringa, and R. M. Wilson, Modern Language Review 63.1 (1968): 141–42.

Essential supplements are Year’s Work in English Studies (G330), Year’s Work in Modern Language Studies (S4855), and especially the surveys and bibliographies of English, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish literature in Thomas D. Cooke, ed., The Present State of Scholarship in Fourteenth-Century Literature (Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1982; 319 pp.). The essay by John H. Fisher on English literature (pp. 1–54) surveys bibliographies and research tools, anthologies and translations, facsimiles, thematic studies, language, major authors, works, and genres and concludes with a selective classified bibliography of 386 books published since the early 1960s.

See also

YWES (G330): Chapters for Middle English Literature; Chaucer.

Serial Bibliographies


BREPOLiS Medieval Bibliographies: International Medieval Bibliography Online. Brepolis. Brepols, n.d. 23 Nov. 2012. <http://www.brepolis.net>. Updated four times a year.

International Medieval Bibliography, [1967– ]: Multidisciplinary Bibliography of the Middle Ages / Bibliographie multidisciplinaire du Moyen Age / Multidisziplinäre Bibliographie des Mittelalters / Bibliografia multidisciplinaria del Medioevo / Bibliografía multidisciplinaria la Edad Media / Mul’tidistsdplinarnaya Bibliografiya Srednevekov’ya (300–1500) (IMB). Turnhout: Brepols, 1968– . 2/yr. Subtitle varies. Z6203.I63 016.914′03′1. CD-ROM.

An international bibliography of articles and notes in journals, Festschriften, and collections of essays that, through the bibliography for 1998, treated Europe and the Byzantine Empire from 450 to 1500; with the 1999 bibliography, coverage expanded to include the Middle East and North Africa and was extended back to 400 (and then to 300 with the 2003 bibliography). Single-author monographs, reviews, and (as of 1983) collections of previously published articles are excluded.

The IMB Online offers two search screens: Simple Search (which allows searches by keyword, author, academic discipline, geographic area, and date) and Advanced Search (which allows searches by keyword, author, title, language, date of publication, academic discipline, geographic area, index term, and century); both screens allow searches to include Bibliographie de civilisation médiévale, and both offer browsable lists of insertable terms for many fields. Records, which are organized by date of publication (descending) then alphabetically by author, can be sorted by ascending date and marked for downloading or e-mailing. A video slide show demonstrating how to search IMB Online is available at http://www.brepolis.net/BRP_Info_En.html (click Brepolis Databases).

In the print version, entries are classified by country or area under several divisions, which currently include ones for language; literature (with sections for general studies, drama, prose, and verse); manuscripts and paleography; folk studies; printing history; historiography; and women’s studies. Since these divisions have changed markedly over the years, users must consult the contents list in respective volumes. Some entries are now briefly annotated. Two indexes: scholars; subjects (selective). The CD-ROM, while cumulating the print version and offering basic search options, is hampered by a primitive search engine and less than user-friendly interface. Although the work is not comprehensive, its breadth makes it an important complement to the standard serial bibliographies and indexes in section G. Review: B. D. H. Miller, Review of English Studies ns 29.113 (1978): 78–79.

(A companion database—Bibliographie de civilisation médiévale [http://www.brepolis.net]—indexes single-author books, but its coverage of Medieval English literature is neither extensive nor current.)

IMB is complemented by Iter: Gateway to the Middle Ages and Renaissance (http://www.itergateway.org; updated daily), which covers studies of the period 400–1700. As of 23 November 2012, the database included more than 1,162,000 records for books, articles, dissertations, book chapters, and reviews. The Basic Search screen allows for a keyword search of an entire record or of individual record fields (author, title, or subject). Advanced Search allows users to combine the preceding fields along with ones for Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress Classification; to limit searches by language, date, type of publication, and title (of journal, series, or edited collection); and to sort records by relevance, title, author, or date. Records can be marked for e-mailing, printing, or saving to a list. There is considerable disparity in the level of indexing of individual records, only a few records include summaries, and coverage of journals runs two to three years behind publication date; nevertheless Iter is a welcome resource, especially for its coverage of post-1500 topics. For a history of Iter, see William R. Bowen, ““Iter: Where Does the Path Lead?”” Early Modern Literary Studies 5.3 (2000): 26 pars.; 5 Mar. 2001; <http://purl.oclc.org/emls/05-3/bowiter.html>. For a comparison of Iter and IMB Online, see Daniel Newton and Jennalyn Tellman, ““A Comparison of the Iter Bibliography and the International Medieval Bibliography: Tools for Researching the History of the European Middle Ages”,” Reference and User Services Quarterly 49.3 (2010): 265–77.

The following defunct serial bibliographies are still useful:

  • “Bibliography of American Periodical Literature.” Speculum 9–47 (1934–72).

  • International Guide to Medieval Studies: A Continuous Index to Periodical Literature. 12 vols. Darien: Amer. Bibliog. Service, 1963–78. International coverage of articles from 1961 to 1973, with scholar and subject indexes.

  • Progress of Medieval and Renaissance Studies in the United States and Canada. 25 nos. Boulder: U of Colorado, 1921–60. Lists publications, dissertations, and works in progress, 1922–59.

For other serial bibliographies, see Rouse, Serial Bibliographies for Medieval Studies (M1805).

See also

Sec. G: Serial Bibliographies, Indexes, and Abstracts.

ABELL (G340): English Literature/Middle English through the volume for 1972; English Literature/Old and Middle English: Subsidiary through the volume for 1933; English Literature/Fifteenth Century in the volumes for 1927–72; and English Literature/Middle English and Fifteenth Century in later volumes.

MLAIB (G335): English Language and Literature division in the volumes for 1921–25; English VI in the volumes for 1926–56; English V in the volumes for 1957–80; and English Literature/1100–1499: Middle English Period section (as well as any larger chronological sections encompassing the period) in the later volumes. Some studies treating Middle English literature appear in General/Medieval in the volume for 1928; General II: Medieval Literature in the volumes for 1929–32; General/Medieval Literature in the volumes for 1933–52; General VII: Literature, General and Comparative/Medieval Literature in the volumes for 1953–55; General II: Literature, General and Comparative/Medieval Literature in the volume for 1956; and General III: Literature, General and Comparative/Medieval Literature in the volumes for 1957–80. Researchers must also check the headings beginning “English Literature,” “Medieval,” and “Middle Ages” in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

Other Bibliographies


The New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (NCBEL). Vol. 1: 600–1660. Ed. George Watson. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1974. 2,476 cols. Z2011.N45 [PR83] 016.82.

(For a full discussion of NCBEL, see entry M1385.) The part devoted to the Middle English period (1100–1500) has six major divisions, each subdivided and classified as its subject requires: introduction, Middle English literature to 1400 (with sections for romances, literature, Chaucer, education), the fifteenth century (English Chaucerians, Middle Scots poets, English prose, miscellaneous verse and prose), songs and ballads, medieval drama, and writings in Latin. The general introduction for the volume as a whole lists bibliographies, histories, anthologies, and works about prosody, prose rhythm, and language important to the study of the Middle English period. Users must familiarize themselves with the organization, remember that there is considerable unevenness of coverage among subdivisions, and consult the index volume (vol. 5) rather than the provisional index in vol. 1. Review: Fred C. Robinson, Anglia 97.2 (1979): 511–17.

Vol. 1 of the Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (M1385a) is still occasionally useful for its coverage of the social and political background (which NCBEL drops).


Oxford Bibliographies Online: Medieval Studies. Ed. Paul E. Szarmach. Oxford UP, 2010– . 15 Jan. 2015. <http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/obo/page/medieval-studies>.

Oxford Bibliographies Online are peer-reviewed, concisely annotated, expertly selected bibliographic citations. Each of the articles within a bibliography, written by scholars in the field, consists of an introduction that covers the history behind the field or subfield, followed by a categorized list of useful academic publications (e.g., introductions, textbooks, journals, handbooks and guides, reference works, primary texts or documents) and sections on debates and controversies, criticism, genres, and more. The lists of citations are highly selective, chosen to represent the best scholarship in a given field. Some articles include links to full text or Web content.

Medieval Studies includes articles on Anglo-Saxon manuscript illumination, Pictish art, Beowulf, the Book of Kells, Chaucer, Robin Hood, troubadours, and scores of other subjects.

Content is browsable, and users can search the database with the option of limiting by resource type. Searches can be saved, and users can receive e-mails alerting them to new additions.

See also

Annotated Bibliographies of Old and Middle English Literature (M1670a).

Kallendorf, Latin Influences on English Literature from the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth Century (S4895).

Related Topics


Graves, Edgar B., ed. A Bibliography of English History to 1485. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1975. 1,103 pp. Z2017.B5 [DA130] 016.942.

An extensive, albeit selective, bibliography of primary works and scholarship on English (not British) history from prehistoric times to 1485 that revises Charles Gross, The Sources and Literature of English History from the Earliest Times to about 1485, 2nd ed. (London: Longmans, 1915; 820 pp.). Graves covers publications through December 1969 on the pre-Norman era and through December 1970 (along with some later works) on the period 1066–1485. Entries are organized in five classified divisions: general (with sections for bibliographies, journals, and ancillary areas such as philology, archaeology, and art); archives, source collections, and modern narratives (including a section on local history); prehistory to Anglo-Saxon conquest; Anglo-Saxon period; the period 1066–1485 (with sections on a variety of topics such as chronicles, public records, military and naval history, urban society, the church, and intellectual interests). Many annotations are evaluative or refer to related works; unfortunately, several entries are not annotated or are inadequately so. Indexed by persons and subjects. The authoritative guide to historical scholarship on the period, Graves is especially useful for cross-disciplinary research. Entries for pre-1901 publications are included in Bibliography of British and Irish History (M1400).

For broader geographic coverage, see Paetow, Guide to the Study of Medieval History (M1855), and Crosby, Bishko, and Kellogg, Medieval Studies (M1850). Convenient highly selective bibliographies are Bertie Wilkinson, The High Middle Ages in England, 1154–1377 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP for the Conf. on British Studies, 1978; 130 pp.; Conf. on British Studies Bibliog. Handbooks), and Delloyd J. Guth, Late-Medieval England, 1377–1485 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP for the Conf. on British Studies, 1976; 143 pp.; Conf. on British Studies Bibliog. Handbooks). Guth is continued (but less selectively) by Joel T. Rosenthal, Late Medieval England (1377–1485): A Bibliography of Historical Scholarship, 1975–1989 (Kalamazoo: Medieval Inst., Western Michigan U, 1994; 371 pp.) and Late Medieval England (1377–1485): A Bibliography of Historical Scholarship, 1990–1999 (2003; 285 pp.).


Crosby, Everett U., C. Julian Bishko, and Robert L. Kellogg. Medieval Studies: A Bibliographical Guide. New York: Garland, 1983. 1,131 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 427. Z5579.5.C76 [CB351] 016.9401.

A classified, annotated, selective bibliography of books and serials on all aspects of medieval studies from the period 200 to 1500. The approximately 9,000 entries are organized in 138 divisions covering reference works, the arts, sciences, social sciences, religion, laws, languages, literatures, numismatics, and heraldry. The broader topics have sections devoted to geographic areas, and each is subdivided as its subject requires. The brief annotations—many of them evaluative—are generally accurate and helpful. Two indexes: authors and editors; topics. Given the breadth of coverage, the organization of the work is clear and the selection judicious, but access is inhibited by the lack of a subject index. Still, Medieval Studies is useful for identifying important reference works and studies and for interdisciplinary research.


Paetow, Louis John. A Guide to the Study of Medieval History. Rev. and corrected ed. with errata by Gray C. Boyce and an addendum by Lynn Thorndike. Millwood: Kraus, 1980. 643 pp.

Boyce, Gray Cowan, comp. and ed. Literature of Medieval History, 1930–1975: A Supplement to Louis John Paetow’s A Guide to the Study of Medieval History. 5 vols. Millwood: Kraus, 1981. Z6203.P25 [D117] 016.9401.

A selective bibliography emphasizing studies in English, French, and German (with some in Spanish and Italian) published through 1975 on Western Europe. Entries are organized in three divisions, each elaborately classified: general works (with chapters for bibliographies, reference works, subjects related to the study of medieval history, general modern historical works, and collections of original sources), general history of the Middle Ages, and medieval culture (to 1300 in Paetow, 1500 in Boyce). In Paetow, most sections begin with an outline, followed by a list of the most important works and then a general bibliography. (See pp. xxi–li for errata and pp. liii–cxii for the addendum.) Indexed by scholars, collection titles, and subjects. Boyce generally follows Paetow’s organization (omitting the introductory outlines and providing a straightforward author list of studies) but offers more thorough coverage of scholarship and expands the section on medieval culture to 1500. Indexed by persons. Although poorly organized, both works are valuable guides to scholarship on literature-related subjects. Review (Boyce): C. Warren Hollister, American Historical Review 87.4 (1982): 1064–66.

See also

Bibliography of British and Irish History (M1400).


Guides to Scholarship


ABELL (G340): Middle English headings in the subdivisions of the English Language section in the volumes for 1934–84; in earlier and later volumes, studies treating Middle English appear throughout the English Language division.

MLAIB (G335): English Language and Literature division in the volumes for 1922–25; Middle English headings in English I/Linguistics section of the volumes for 1926–66; Indo-European C/Germanic Linguistics IV/English/Middle English section in the 1967–80 volumes; and the Indo-European Languages/Germanic Languages/West Germanic Languages/English Language/English Language (Middle) section in pt. 3 of the later volumes. Researchers should also check the “English Language (Middle)” heading in the subject index to post-1980 volumes and in the online thesaurus.

Tajima, Old and Middle English Language Studies (M1687).



Middle English Dictionary (MED). Ed. Hans Kurath et al. 13 vols. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1952–2001. PE679.M54 427.02. Online through Middle English Compendium (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/mec).

A dictionary of Middle English from c. 1100 to 1500. Entries, based on the Southeast Midland dialect, cite variant and grammatical forms, part of speech, etymology, meanings (grouped by semantic relationship), and illustrative quotations. The electronic version can be searched by headword (and its forms), by elements of an entry, and by quotation and provides links to the HyperBibliography (which includes all the Middle English materials cited in the Dictionary and supersedes the printed bibliographies [see below]) and to texts in the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse; it offers far more versatile access than the print volumes. The electronic version corrects some obvious errors in the print version, revises numerous bibliographic citations, and supplies definitions for a few entries lacking them; the editor plans to supply entries for words originally intended for a supplement and for newly discovered words and meanings.

For a detailed description of editorial procedures and a bibliography of the manuscripts and printed editions from which passages are drawn, see Plan and Bibliography, ed. Robert E. Lewis, 2nd ed. (Ann Arbor: U of Michigan, 2007; 173 pp). Largely superseding the Middle English entries in Oxford English Dictionary (M1410) and justly praised for accuracy and reliability, MED is the indispensable source for the study of Middle English and for explication of the literature of the period.

Representative of the numerous reviews that suggest additions and corrections are those appearing in Medium Ævum: B. D. H. Miller, 37.3 (1968): 332–36; 42.1 (1973): 73–81; 44.1-2 (1975): 181–90; 46.2 (1977): 343–48; 47.2 (1978): 351–56; R. L. Thompson, 34.3 (1965): 269–74; Martyn Wakelin, 54.2 (1985): 292–95. English Studies and Review of English Studies also regularly reviewed volumes. In addition, there are a number of corrections and additions: F. Th. Visser, ““Three Suggested Emendations of the Middle English Dictionary ”,” English Studies 36.1 (1955): 23–24, and ““ The Middle English Dictionary (Parts A, B1-4, E, and F)”,” English Studies 40.1 (1959): 18–27; Hans Käsmann, ““Anmerkungen zum Middle English Dictionary ”,” Anglia 77.1 (1959): 65–74; Kurath, “Some Comments on Professor Visser’s Notes on the Middle English Dictionary,” English Studies 41.4 (1960): 253–54 (with a response by Visser, 254–55); Autumn Simmons, ““ A Contribution to the Middle English Dictionary: Citations from the English Poems of Charles, Duc d’Orléans”,” Journal of English Linguistics 2.1 (1968): 43–56; George R. Keiser, ““‘Epwort’: A Ghost Word in the Middle English Dictionary ”,” English Language Notes 15.3 (1978): 163–64; Lilo Moessner, ““Some Remarks on the MED ”,” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 83.2 (1982): 150–51 (with a response by Klaus Bitterling, ““The Proverbs of Alfred and the Middle English Dictionary ”,” Neuphilologische Mitteilungen 84.3 [1983]: 344–46); Lister M. Matheson, ““Licere: A Ghost Word in the Middle English Dictionary ”,” Notes and Queries 33.1 (1986): 9; Juhani Norri, ““A Note on the Entry Rede-wale in the Middle English Dictionary ”,” Notes and Queries 35.1 (1988): 11–12, and ““A Note on the Entries Catalempsi and Goute festre in the Middle English Dictionary ”,” Notes and Queries 36.1 (1989): 25–27.

An important complement for the localization of English from c. 1350 to c. 1450 is Angus McIntosh, M. L. Samuels, and Michael Benskin, A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English (LALME), 4 vols. (Aberdeen: Aberdeen UP, 1986; a Web-based revision [e-LALME] is in progress). Although full of information, it is a difficult work to use even with the accompanying Guide (1987; 23 pp.). For examples of how the work can be used, see Regionalism in Late Medieval Manuscripts and Texts: Essays Celebrating the Publication of A Linguistic Atlas of Late Mediaeval English , ed. Felicity Riddy (Cambridge: Brewer, 1991; 214 pp.; York Manuscripts Confs.: Proc. Ser. 2). Review: M. C. Seymour, English Studies 72.1 (1991): 73–80. LALME is complemented by A Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English, 1150–1325 (LAEME), vers. 2.1, comp. Margaret Laing and Roger Lass (http://www.lel.ed.ac.uk/ihd/laeme1/laeme1.html).

See also

Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (M1700).

Studies of Language


Brunner, Karl. An Outline of Middle English Grammar. Trans. Grahame Johnston. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1963. 111 pp. PE531.B713 427.02.

A basic overview of the phonology and inflections of Middle English from c. 1100 to c. 1500. Indexed by lexical items. Terse but clear, Brunner is a basic introductory outline of the language.

Fernand Mossé, A Handbook of Middle English, trans. James A. Walker (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins P, 1952; 495 pp.), is a good complement because of its somewhat fuller explanations and generous selection of annotated illustrative texts. A more compact introduction for those new to the language is J. A. Burrow and Thorlac Turville-Petre, A Book of Middle English, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005; 419 pp.), with succinct discussions of pronunciation, vocabulary, inflections, syntax, and meter preceding selections from major texts.


Drama and Theater

Histories and Surveys

Chambers, E. K. The Mediaeval Stage. 2 vols. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1903. PN2152.C4 792.094.

A history of the development of the stage to 1558, in four parts: minstrelsy, folk drama, religious drama, and interludes. A variety of appendixes print documents or extracts from dramatic works, amplify points in the text, or provide bibliographies. The pioneering, seminal work on the topic, Chambers has never been completely superseded but must be supplemented by later histories and specialized studies such as the following:

  • Hardison, O. B., Jr. Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages: Essays in the Origin and Early History of Modern Drama. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins P, 1965. 328 pp.

  • Revels History of Drama, vols. 1–2 (M1530) and a number of the works cited in the bibliographies (vol. 1, pp. 303–36; vol. 2, pp. 259–82).

  • Wickham, Early English Stages (M1915).

  • Young, Karl. The Drama of the Medieval Church. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon–Oxford UP, 1933. On the importance of Young’s study, see C. Clifford Flanigan, “Karl Young and the Drama of the Medieval Church: An Anniversary Appraisal,” Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 27 (1984): 157–66.

For an updated distillation, see the essay on drama in Chambers, English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages (M1790); continued by his Elizabethan Stage (M2115).


Wickham, Glynne. Early English Stages, 1300 to 1660. 4 vols. London: Routledge; New York: Columbia UP, 1963–2002. PN2587.W53 792′.0941.

  • Vol. 1: 1300 to 1576. 2nd ed. 1980. 428 pp. (Originally published, 1959.)

  • Vol. 2: 1576–1660. 2 pts. 1963–72.

  • Vol. 3: Plays and Their Makers to 1576. 1981. 357 pp.

  • Vol. 4: Requiem and an Epilogue. 2002. 239 pp.

Traces the evolution of the drama, emphasizing visual elements in organizing the survey on the theory that festival is the basis for drama. Vol. 1 examines open-air and indoor entertainments and dramatic theory and practice; vol. 2, regulation of the theater, the emblematic tradition, playhouses and theaters, and stages and stage directions; vol. 3, the occasions of drama, emblems, and comedy and tragedy; vol. 4, the development of drama from 975 to 1580. A variety of appendixes print documents and texts. Indexed by persons, subjects, works, and places (in a single index in vols. 1, 2, and 4, but separately in 3). Reviewers note many factual errors but generally agree that Wickham is an important, provocative work. Reviews: (vol. 1) Hardin Craig, Speculum 34.4 (1959): 702–05; (vol. 2, pt. 1) Times Literary Supplement 15 Mar. 1963: 180; (vol. 3) Clifford Davidson, Comparative Drama 16.1 (1982): 86–88; Gordon Kipling, Renaissance Quarterly 36.4 (1983): 654–59.

Important complementary works are Chambers, Mediaeval Stage (M1905) and Elizabethan Stage (M2115); Revels History of Drama, vols. 1–4 (M1530); and Bentley, Jacobean and Caroline Stage (M2110).


Harbage, Annals of English Drama (M1535).

Guides to Primary Works

Records of Early English Drama (REED). Sally-Beth MacLean, exec. ed.; dir. Alexandra F. Johnston. London: Brewer–Boydell and Brewer, 1979– . <hhttp://reed.utoronto.ca>.

  • York. Ed. Alexandra F. Johnston and Margaret Rogerson. 2 vols. 1979. (Covers 1370–1642.) PN2596.Y6 Y6 790.2′09428′43.

  • Chester. Ed. Lawrence M. Clopper. 1979. 591 pp. (Covers 1268–1642.) PN2596.C48 C4 790.2′09427′14. [Superseded by Chesire including Chester (below).]

  • Coventry. Ed. R. W. Ingram. 1981. 712 pp. (Covers 1392–1642.) PN2596.C68 C6 790.2′09424′98.

  • Newcastle upon Tyne. Ed. J. J. Anderson. 1982. 216 pp. (Covers 1427–1641.) PN2596.N4 N48 790.2′09428′76.

  • Norwich, 1540–1642. Ed. David Galloway. 1984. 501 pp. PN2596.N6 N67 790.2′09426′15.

  • Cumberland, Westmorland, Gloucestershire. Ed. Audrey Douglas and Peter Greenfield. 1986. 547 pp. (Covers 1345–1643, 1537–1642, 1283–1643, respectively.) PN2589.C86 790.2′09427′8.

  • Devon. Ed. John M. Wasson. 1986. 623 pp. (Covers 1444–1637.) PN2596.D48 D48 790.2′09423′5.

  • Cambridge. Ed. Alan H. Nelson. 2 vols. 1989. (Covers 1342–1642.) PN2596.C3 C36 790.2′09426′59.

  • Herefordshire/Worcestershire. Ed. David N. Klausner. 1990. 734 pp. (Covers c. 1265–1643 and 1186–1643, respectively.) PN2595.5.H47 R4 792.094244.

  • Lancashire. Ed. David George. 1991. 471 pp. (Covers 1352–1668.) PN2595.5.L35 L35. Lancashire Including Isle of Man: Addenda. Ed. Elizabeth Baldwin, George, and David Mills. 2009. 53 pp. <http://www.reed.utoronto.ca/lancsadd.pdf>.

  • Shropshire. Ed. J. A. B. Somerset. 2 vols. 1994. (Covers 1269–1642.) PN2596.S67 S57 791′.09424′5.

  • Somerset and Bath. Ed. James Stokes and Robert J. Alexander. 2 vols. 1996. (Covers 1258–1642.) PN2592.S65 790.2′09423′8.

  • Bristol. Ed. Mark C. Pilkington. 1997. 382 pp. (Covers 1255–1643.) PN2596.B75 R435 790.2′0942′2393.

  • Dorset/Cornwall. Ed. Rosalind Conklin Hays and C. E. McGee, and Sally L. Joyce and Evelyn S. Newlyn, respectively. 1999. 719 pp. (Covers 1311–1642 and 1287–1642, respectively.) PN2595.5.D67 R43 791′.09423′3.

  • Sussex. Ed. Cameron Louis. 2000. 403 pp. (Covers 1245–1643.) PN2595.5.S87 R43 790.2′09422′5.

  • Kent: Diocese of Canterbury. Ed. James M. Gibson. 3 vols. 2002. (Covers 1272–1641.) PN2595.5.K46 R43 792′.09422′3.

  • Oxford. Ed. John R. Elliott, Jr., Nelson, Johnston, and Diana Wyatt. 2 vols. 2004. (Covers 1284–1643.) PN2596.O94 R43 791′.0942574.

  • Wales. Ed. Klausner. 2005. 528 pp. (Covers c. 540–1654.) PN2607.R43 790.2′09429′0902.

  • Cheshire including Chester. Ed. Baldwin, Clopper, and Mills. 2 vols. 2007. (Covers 1194–1642.) PN2595.5.C44 R43 792.09427′1. [Supersedes Chester (above).]

  • Lincolnshire. Ed. Stokes. 2 vols. 2009. (Covers 1235–1643.) PN2595.5.L56 L56 792.09425′3.

  • Inns of Court. Ed. Nelson and Elliott. 3 vols. 2010. PN2596.L6 792.0942109031.

  • Bedfordshire. Ed. Greenfield. In progress.

  • Berkshire. Ed. Johnston. In progress.

  • Beverley. Ed. Wyatt. In progress.

  • Buckinghamshire. Ed. Johnston. In progress.

  • Clifford Family. Ed. Wasson. In progress.

  • Cambridgeshire. Ed. Anne Brannen. In progress.

  • Derbyshire. Ed. McGee and Sylvia Thomas. In progress.

  • Dudley Family. Ed. MacLean. In progress.

  • Durham. Ed. John McKinnell. In progress.

  • Essex. Ed. Nelson. In progress.

  • Hampshire. Ed. Jane Cowling and Greenfield. In progress.

  • Hertfordshire. Ed. Greenfield. In progress.

  • Huntingdonshire and the Soke of Peterborough. Ed. Brannen. In progress.

  • Ireland. Ed. Alan Fletcher. In progress.

  • Kent: Diocese of Rochester. Ed. Gibson. In progress.

  • Leicestershire. Ed. Alice Hamilton. In progress.

  • London: Corporation and Guilds. Ed. Anne Lancashire. In progress.

  • London: Parishes and Middlesex. Ed. Mary Erler. In progress.

  • Middlesex and Westminster. Ed. Jessica Freeman, Erler, and Sheila Lindenbaum. In progress.

  • Northamptonshire. Ed. Brannen and Johnston. In progress.

  • Northumberland. Ed. Suzanne Westfall. In progress.

  • Norwich (to 1540). Ed. JoAnna Dutka and Matthew Woodcock. In progress.

  • Nottinghamshire. Ed. David Postles. In progress.

  • Oxfordshire. Ed. Johnston. In progress.

  • Percy Family. Ed. Alexander. In progress.

  • Rutland. Ed. Stokes. In progress.

  • Salisbury. Ed. Douglas. In progress.

  • Scotland (Provinces). Ed. John McGavin and Eila Williamson. In progress.

  • Scotland Royal Court. Ed. Sarah Carpenter. In progress.

  • Staffordshire. Ed. Somerset. In progress.

  • Suffolk. Ed. Stokes. In progress.

  • Surrey. Ed. MacLean. In progress.

  • Warwickshire. Ed. Somerset. In progress.

  • Wiltshire. Ed. Hays and McGee. In progress.

  • Yorkshire (East Riding). Ed. Wyatt. In progress.

  • Yorkshire (North Riding). Ed. Klausner. In progress.

  • Yorkshire (West Riding). Ed. McGee and Thomas. In progress.

Almost all the published volumes can be downloaded from the Internet Archive (http://www.archive.org); however, formatting has not been preserved in some instances and, as of late November 2012, the files have not been proofread for scanning errors. Corrected, supplemented data from published volumes are being added to a database (http://link.library.utoronto.ca/reed) that can be searched by patron, event, venue, and troupe (as well as by keyword). eREED, which will transform REED from a print into a digital project, is in development.

Transcribes—but does not interpret—civic, guild, and ecclesiastical records, wills, and antiquarians’ compilations that relate to dramatic, ceremonial, or minstrel activity before 1642. Each volume includes a general introduction to the urban center or county (with the latter following pre-1642 boundaries), its dramatic activities, and the nature of the records; transcriptions of the pertinent documents (arranged chronologically in the city volumes, by place in the county ones); various appendixes (including one with English translations of Latin-language documents); a glossary; and an index of persons, places, subjects, and titles.

These volumes are incomparable sources of raw material for theatrical, dramatic, and musical history, but they must be consulted with due regard for the sociohistorical context of the records transcribed. For a critique of the assumptions about historical scholarship that inform that project’s editorial policies, see Theresa Coletti, ““Reading REED: History and the Records of Early English Drama”,” Literary Practice and Social Change in Britain, 1380–1530, ed. Lee Patterson (Berkeley: U of California P, 1990; New Historicism: Studies in Cultural Poetics 8) 248–84. For histories of REED and examples of uses of the data gathered by the project, see Douglas and MacLean, eds., REED in Review: Essays in Celebration of the First Twenty-Five Years (Toronto: U of Toronto P, 2006; 271 pp.; Studies in Early English Drama 8). Reviews: (York) Barrie Dobson, Renaissance and Reformation ns 6.1 (1982): 47–55; Sheila Lindenbaum, Modern Philology 80.1 (1982): 80–83; Alan H. Nelson, Modern Language Review 78.1 (1983): 131–33; (Newcastle) Richard C. Kohler, Shakespeare Studies 18 (1986): 279–84; (Cambridge) Peter Happé, Comparative Drama 24.1 (1990): 78–82 (with an assessment of the entire project); Hilton Kelliher, Library 6th ser. 13.4 (1991): 360–63; (Lancashire) Richard Rastall, Music and Letters 74.3 (1993): 417–21 and Comparative Drama 27.2 (1993): 256–63; (Cheshire including Chester) Happé, Comparative Drama 42.2 (2008): 253–57; Theodore K. Lerud, Modern Philology 108.2 (2010): E79–E84.

The Records of Early English Drama Newsletter (REEDN) (1976–97) printed news of the project, additions and corrections to published volumes, transcriptions of records, and occasional updates of Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain (M1925).


Lancashire, Ian. Dramatic Texts and Records of Britain: A Chronological Topography to 1558. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1984. 633 pp. Studies in Early English Drama 1. PN2587.L36 792′.0941.

A calendar and finding list of references to “a text . . . or the record of a dramatic representation or show, a playing place, a playwright, visits of acting troupes, an official act of control over playing, or other evidence relating to plays and their production” from Roman times to 1558. Entries are organized chronologically under specific sites in separate sections for England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. An entry includes a brief summary of a record along with references to the most reliable printed editions or manuscript sources. The chronological list of published and unpublished dramatic works refers to editions and important scholarship. The mass of information is best approached through the several indexes: playing companies (two indexes: place; patron or player); playwrights; playing places and buildings (chronological); salient dates and entry numbers; general index of places, persons, and subjects. (Unfortunately, users must contend with five different number systems.) The emphasis is on collecting rather than interpreting evidence, but the introduction provides a brief history of dramatic activity and suggestions for further research. (Confusing, though, is the use of italic numbers to refer to the list of bibliographical abbreviations, since numbers in the list are hidden at the end of citations.) Dramatic Texts and Records is a valuable systematic guide to widely scattered primary evidence and scholarship that serves as an important complement to Records of Early English Drama (M1920).

Incorporates and is continued by the biennial “Annotated Bibliography of Printed Records of Early British Drama and Minstrelsy [for 1976–83],” Records of Early English Drama Newsletter (entry M1920a) 1978.1–9.2 (1978–84), and by Mary Blackstone, “A Survey and Annotated Bibliography of Records Research and Performance History Relating to Early British Drama and Minstrelsy for 1984–8,” 15.1 (1990): 1–104, cont. in 15.2 (1990): 1–104.


Grantley, Darryll. English Dramatic Interludes, 1300–1580: A Reference Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2004. 427 pp. Z2014.D7 G73 [PR643.I57] 016.822′041.

A bibliography of extant noncycle drama in English from 1300 to 1580; coverage extends to “saint plays, farces, early history plays and neoclassical drama” but excludes liturgical and closet drama and stray single plays that probably belonged to a larger cycle. The plays are listed alphabetically by title, with each entry including sections for date, authorship, and auspices; texts (including manuscripts) and editions (with modern editions keyed to the first part of the bibliography at the back of the book); sources; characters; plot summary; length; commentary; significant topics or narrative patterns; dramaturgical and rhetorical features (including verbal features, costume, stage directions and significant actions, songs and music, set and staging, and stage properties); place-names and allusions; modern productions and recordings; and a list of critical studies (with some citations keyed to the second part of the bibliography at the back of the book). Concludes with indexes of characters and songs; biographical notes on authors; a list of closet plays and noncycle plays in languages other than English; a bibliography that confusingly separates lists of modern editions and critical studies cited by short form in the play entries; and recommendations for further reading. English Dramatic Interludes includes a wealth of information, but much of it is rendered frustratingly inaccessible by the inexcusable failure to index topics, narrative patterns, rhetorical features, costumes, stage directions, settings, stage properties, place-names, and allusions.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism
Surveys of Research

For a convenient overview of criticism and selective bibliography, see Peter Happé, “A Guide to Criticism of Medieval English Theatre,” and Richard Beadle and Happé, “Select Bibliography,” The Cambridge Companion to Medieval English Theatre, ed. Beadle (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994) 312–67.

Other Bibliographies

Stratman, Carl J., C. S. V. Bibliography of Medieval Drama. 2nd ed., rev. and enl. 2 vols. New York: Ungar, 1972. Z5782.A2 S8 016.80882′02.

A bibliography of manuscripts and editions and studies of liturgical, mystery, morality, and miracle plays, interludes, and folk drama written before c. 1600, principally in England; there is very selective coverage of Continental and Byzantine works. Entries are organized in 10 variously classified divisions: general studies; Festschriften; liturgical Latin; and English, Byzantine, French, German, Italian, Low Countries, and Spanish drama. The English division has sections for bibliographies, collections of plays, general studies, mystery and miracle plays, moralities and interludes, and folk drama. Plays are organized alphabetically by title, with listings for manuscripts, editions, and studies (with the last arranged chronologically and including theses and dissertations). Entries are not annotated, but important studies are marked by an asterisk, and library locations are provided for manuscripts and books. Indexed by scholars, dramatists, titles, and subjects. The lack of clear organization within some divisions is compounded by poor layout and typography. Although untrustworthy because of the numerous errors and omissions, the Bibliography of Medieval Drama is useful as a preliminary list of works published before 1970. Reviews: Lorrayne Y. Baird, Speculum 50.1 (1975): 155–58; J. W. Robinson, Theatre Research International 1.1 (1975): 47–48.

Stratman’s coverage of English drama is continued to about 1986 by Sidney E. Berger, Medieval English Drama: An Annotated Bibliography of Recent Criticism (New York: Garland, 1990; 500 pp.; Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 956: Garland Medieval Bibliogs. 2). Coverage is reasonably thorough (except of dissertations not abstracted in ProQuest Dissertations and Theses [H465]), and most of the 1,744 entries are accompanied by adequate descriptive annotations; however, the rudimentary division into editions and criticism, coupled with insufficient, unrefined subject indexing, render Medieval English Drama much less accessible than it should be. Review: John C. Coldewey, Speculum 67.2 (1992): 377–78.

Stratman and Berger are supplemented by Jim Villani, Lorrayne Y. Baird, Alice Crosetto, and Mary Sandra Moller, “Musical Texts, Recordings, Films, and Filmstrips for Medi[e]val Drama,” Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Teaching 10.1 (1983): 3–8. For a more complete and trustworthy guide to English drama c. 1495–1580, see White, Early English Drama (M2165).

Continued by Maria Spaeth Murphy and James Hoy, eds., “Bibliography of Medieval Drama, 1969–1972,” Emporia State Research Studies 34.4 (1986): 44 pp.; Murphy, Carole Ferguson, and Hoy, “Bibliography of Medieval Drama, 1973–1976,” 35.1 (1986): 41 pp.; and Ferguson and Hoy, “Bibliography of Medieval Drama, 1977–1980,” 37.2 (1988): 53 pp. Entries are organized chronologically (with separate lists of books, articles, and dissertations under each year); most are accompanied by a descriptive annotation.

See also

Lancashire, Dramatic Texts and Records (M1925).

John Leyerle, “Medieval Drama,” pp. 19–28 in Wells, English Drama (M1555).


Histories and Surveys

Boffey, Julia, and A. S. G. Edwards. A Companion to Fifteenth-Century English Poetry. Woodbridge: Brewer, 2013. 244 pp. PR313 .C648 2013x.

This edited collection of seventeen essays by recognized scholars seeks to rehabilitate the reputation of and increase academic familiarity with fifteenth-century English poetry. Because of long-standing lack of printed collections, fifteenth-century poetry was largely ignored until the early twentieth century and of interest to only a few scholars until the 1970s. The collection is arranged in three sections. Part 1 includes two background essays, on patronage and circulation. The eight essays in the part 2 focus on authors, including five essays on Thomas Hoccleve or John Lydgate. Part 3 is concentrated on themes and genres, including historical and political verse, classical and humanist translations, romance, scientific and encyclopedic verse, and verse tales. Includes a short chronology, a helpful index of manuscripts, and a general index including authors, titles, and places. Review: Rebecca Lyons, English 63.242 (2014): 246–47.


Pearsall, Old and Middle English Poetry (M1735).

Guides to Primary Works

Boffey, Julia, and A. S. G. Edwards. A New Index of Middle English Verse. London: British Lib., 2005. 344 pp. Z2014.P7 016.8211.

A first-line index to poems, for the most part in manuscripts and written before c. 1500 (but including copies after 1500 of poems written before that date). In revising, expanding, and correcting Carleton Brown and Rossell Hope Robbins, The Index of Middle English Verse (New York: Columbia UP for the Index Soc., 1943; 785 pp.), and its Supplement, by Robbins and John L. Cutler (Lexington: U of Kentucky P, 1965; 551 pp.), Boffey and Edwards retain the Brown-Robbins-Cutler numbers (which are standard for referring to Middle English verse) but delete post-1500 entries, erroneous ones, those for extracts, and ones that are not verse; attempt to record significant variants; and insert some 1,500 new entries into the sequence. A typical entry includes first line, author, title, genre, length, verse form, a list of manuscripts including the verse, and early printed editions. Two indexes: manuscripts (with a list of entries included in each); authors, titles, and subjects (which the authors admit is not as comprehensive as that in the parent volumes). For addenda, see Edwards, “Identifying Individual Middle English Lyrics: NIMEV 2321, Etc.,” Notes and Queries 60.1 (2013): 22–24. Based on firsthand examination of many of the entries and conflating, correcting, and expanding the original Index and its Supplement, New Index of Middle English Verse is the essential resource for investigating verse of the period. Review: E. G. Stanley, Notes and Queries 53.3 (2006): 362–64.

For discussion of the questions and challenges the editors faced, see Edwards, “Towards a New Index of Middle English Verse,” Studies in Medieval English Language and Literature 15 (2000): 51–75.

Complemented and continued by Ringler, Bibliography and Index of English Verse Printed, 1476–1558 (M2190) and Bibliography and Index of English Verse in Manuscript, 1501–1558 (M2190).


Guides to Primary Works

The Index of Middle English Prose. A. S. G. Edwards, gen. ed. In progress since 1977.

An attempt to locate and identify all Middle English printed and manuscript prose texts (except letters and legal documents) composed between c. 1200 and c. 1500 (as well as later transcripts). The project and editorial procedures are outlined in A. S. G. Edwards, ““Towards an Index of Middle English Prose ”,” and Robert E. Lewis, ““Editorial Technique in the Index of Middle English Prose ”,” Middle English Prose: Essays on Bibliographical Problems, ed. Edwards and Derek Pearsall (New York: Garland, 1981) 23–41, 43–64. Preparation of the comprehensive index is proceeding in a number of stages:

  • Lewis, R. E., N. F. Blake, and Edwards. Index of Printed Middle English Prose. New York: Garland, 1985. 362 pp. Garland Reference Lib. of the Humanities 537. An index of literary prose written from c. 1150 to c. 1500; entries include first line, title, and lists of printed editions and manuscripts.

  • A series of bibliographical catalogs of genres and authors.

  • Handlists to major collections, of which the following have appeared under the main title The Index of Middle English Prose:

    • Handlist I: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in the Henry E. Huntingdon [sic] Library. By Ralph Hanna III. Cambridge: Brewer, 1984. 81 pp.

    • Handlist II: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester and Chetham’s Library, Manchester. By G. A. Lester. 1985. 112 pp.

    • Handlist III: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in the Digby Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford. By Patrick J. Horner. 1986. 86 pp.

    • Handlist IV: A Handlist of Douce Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. By Laurel Braswell. 1987. 110 pp. Reviewers have noted numerous errors in this volume.

    • Handlist V: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in the Additional Collection (10001–[14000]), British Library, London. By Peter Brown and Elton D. Higgs. 1988. 68 pp.

    • Handlist VI: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in Yorkshire Libraries and Archives. By O. S. Pickering and Susan Powell. 1989. 81 pp. Pickering. ““A London Chronicle in Yorkshire: An Addendum to Handlist VI of the Index of Middle English Prose ”.” Notes and Queries ns 40.3 (1993): 305–07.

    • Handlist VII: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in Parisian Libraries. By James Simpson. 1989. 38 pp.

    • Handlist VIII: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in Oxford College Libraries. By S. J. Ogilvie-Thomson. 1991. 198 pp.

    • Handlist IX: A Handlist of Manuscripts Containing Middle English Prose in the Ashmole Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford. By L. M. Eldredge. 1992. 164 pp.

    • Handlist X: Manuscripts in Scandinavian Collections. By Irma Taavitsainen. 1994. 46 pp.

    • Handlist XI: Manuscripts in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge. By Lynne R. Mooney. 1995. 251 pp.

    • Handlist XII: Smaller Bodleian Collections: English Miscellaneous, English Poetry, English Theology, Finch, Latin Theology, Lyell, Radcliffe Trust. By Hanna. 1997. 45 pp.

    • Handlist XIII: Manuscripts in Lambeth Palace Library, Including Those Formerly in Sion College Library. By Pickering and V. M. O’Mara. 1999. 133 pp.

    • Handlist XIV: Manuscripts in the National Library of Wales (Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru), Aberystwyth. By William Marx. 1999. 100 pp.

    • Handlist XV: Manuscripts in Midland Libraries. By Valerie Edden. 2000. 110 pp.

    • Handlist XVI: Manuscripts in the Laudian Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford. By Ogilvie-Thomson. 2000. 140 pp.

    • Handlist XVII: Manuscripts in the Library of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. By Kari Anne Rand Schmidt. 2001. 168 pp.

    • Handlist XVIII: Manuscripts in the Library of Pembroke College, Cambridge, and the Fitzwilliam Museum. By Kari Anne Rand. 2006. 129 pp.

    • Handlist XIX: Manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge (Dd–Oo). By Margaret Connolly. 2009. 467 pp.

    • Handlist XX: Manuscripts in the Library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. By Rand. 2009. 212 pp.

Entries, organized by the library’s shelf mark, include incipit and explicit (for each item in a collection), physical description, and references to other manuscripts, reference works, and scholarship. Users must watch for the peculiar alphabetization practices in the indexes (e.g., variant spellings are not regularized). For suggestions on the recording of recipes, see Rand Schmidt, ““ The Index of Middle English Prose and Late Medieval English Recipes”,” English Studies 75.5 (1994): 423–29. Reviews: (Handlist III) H. L. Spencer, Studies in the Age of Chaucer 11 (1989): 238–41 (noting several errors); (Handlist IV) Jeremy Griffiths, Studies in the Age of Chaucer 11 (1989): 191–94; Patricia Deery Kurtz, Speculum 65.2 (1990): 426–29 (both noting numerous inaccuracies); (Handlist V) Juris G. Lidaka, Analytical and Enumerative Bibliography ns 3.3-4 (1989): 171–74; (Handlist IX) Spencer, Review of English Studies 47.185 (1996): 73–75 (with several corrections); (Handlist XI) John B. Friedman, JEGP: Journal of English and Germanic Philology 98.2 (1999): 252–54.

If editorial problems involving dates of coverage and handling of items such as recipes and macaronic texts can be solved, the Index could exert an influence on the study of prose similar to that of Boffey and Edwards, New Index of Middle English Verse (entry M1940) on poetry.

Guides to Scholarship and Criticism

Edwards, A. S. G., ed. Middle English Prose: A Critical Guide to Major Authors and Genres. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1984. 452 pp. PR255.M52 828′.108′09.

Surveys of scholarship and editions, with essays on Ancrene Wisse, the Katherine Group, and the Wohunge Group; Richard Rolle and related works; The Cloud of Unknowing and Walter Hilton’s Scale of Perfection; Nicholas Love; Julian of Norwich; Margery Kempe; John Mandeville; John Trevisa; minor devotional writings; sermon literature; historical prose; Wycliffite prose; romances; Chaucer; medical prose; utilitarian and scientific prose; Caxton; and works of religious instruction. (Malory is omitted because of the existence of recent author bibliographies such as Page West Life, Sir Thomas Malory and the Morte Darthur: A Survey of Scholarship and Annotated Bibliography [Charlottesville: UP of Virginia for Bibliog. Soc. of U of Virginia, 1980; 297 pp.].) Each essay concludes with a selective bibliography of manuscripts, editions, and studies. Indexed by authors, scholars, and anonymous works. Although the essays are uneven in covering dissertations and editions, their perceptive evaluations of scholarship and suggestions for further study make Middle English Prose an essential starting point for research on prose works. Reviews: A. J. Colaianne, Studies in the Age of Chaucer 7 (1985): 188–91; Siegfried Wenzel, Anglia 104.2 (1986): 478–81.

Although A Companion to Middle English Prose, ed. Edwards (Cambridge: Brewer–Boydell and Brewer, 2004; 334 pp.), covers most of the same topics, few contributors survey editions or scholarship.