Gower Bibliography

Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375-1475.

Griffiths, Jeremy and Pearsall, Derek, eds. "Book Production and Publishing in Britain 1375-1475." Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989 ISBN 0521257360

Review

Gower's name is cited frequently in this volume, the contributors to which provide a detailed and comprehensive survey of what is known about the many facets of manuscript production during the important time when Gower's and Chaucer's works first circulated. Among the more significant references: Kathleen Scott (in her essay on "Design, decoration, and illustration," pp. 31-64) discusses the illuminated MSS of CA in relation to other contemporary works (p. 33). Gower and Lydgate are the "two most illustrated of contemporary writers" (p. 39). The most common format in their works was the "column" miniature, which she illustrates with a reproduction of a page from Egerton 1991 (p. 36). Kate Harris ("Patrons, buyers and owners: the evidence for ownership, and the role of book owners in book production and the book trade," pp. 163-200) uses coats of arms as sure evidence of the commissioning of MSS, and cites four copies of CA in which the arms of the original owners are wholly or partially preserved (p. 168). She also cites another copy of CA in her discussion of the difficulty of using later ownership as evidence of provenance (p. 170). Carol M. Meale ("Patrons, Buyers and Owners: Book Production and Social Status," pp. 201-38) describes a previously unknown record of a charge brought in 1413 against a London stationer for removing nine books from the library of the late King Henry IV with the connivance of his "custodem librorum," and for retaining them "ad magnam decepcionem" of Henry V. Among the books mentioned is "unum alium librum vocat [sic] Gower." The document is important for the apparent reference to a palace "librarian" at so early a date, as Meale points out, but also because this is the first record we have of any direct connection between Henry V and a MS of Gower. The language of the MS is not specified, but Meale rather boldly identifies it "in all likelihood" as the Huntington Library copy of CA (p. 203). And A.S.G. Edwards and Derek Pearsall ("The Manuscripts of the Major English Poetic Texts," pp. 257-78) repeatedly cite what has been learned from the examination of individual MSS of Gower's works, in the chapter that has most to do with the cirumstances in which these copies were produced. CA is one of the works they believe was already being disseminated in some organized way before the end of the fourteenth century, "apparently under the author's supervision" (p. 258); the basis for their claim is not clear since there are no surviving copies from that period. They later attribute the consistency of format and the fineness of presentation of so many fifteenth-century copies of CA (in contrast, for instance, to the MSS of CT and PP) to the availability of carefully prepared exemplars, rather than to the mode of production as some have supposed, and they endorse Doyle and Parkes' view (1978) of a largely "bespoke" trade, loosely organized by stationers and booksellers in reponse to particular orders from customers (pp. 260-61).] [PN. Copyright The John Gower Society. JGN 9.1]

Item Type:Book
Subjects:Manuscripts and Textual Studies

Gower Bibliography Editors Only: edit metadata