Gower Bibliography

Locating Scribal Activity in Late-Medieval London.

Mooney, Linne R. "Locating Scribal Activity in Late-Medieval London." In Design and Distribution of Late Medieval Manuscripts in England. Ed. Connolly, Margaret and Mooney, Linne R. [York]: York Medieval Press, 2008, pp. 183-204. ISBN 9781903153246


Mooney argues that not only were London scribes ca. 1400-1476 responsible for vernacular literary manuscripts not working in scriptoria, they were not working in shops, either--but instead, "many of them were not members of the Textwriters' Gild ... and even worked in their homes or lodgings" (184). Mooney emphasizes the distinctions "vernacular literary" in her analysis, since the copiers of manuscripts of literary importance were not producing "the kinds of texts that were in regular demand in high numbers: indulgences, Bibles, Latin rites, breviaries, books of hours, primers, other schoolbooks, university set texts and so forth" (184). Those were the province of the Textwriters' Gild, since they supported the trade; nor were vernacular literary MSS produced by "the 'scriveners,' who after 1373 were a distinct gild of the Writers of Court Letter, really attorneys or notaries public, who could draft legally binding documents" (184) or by the "stationers," who were largely "retailers, selling second-hand and imported books and paper . . . perhaps also pens and plummet and so forth" (185). Rather, vernacular literary books were most often bespoke products, made by "'free-lance' scribes," some of whom (about a third, based upon surviving evidence) were foreign-born, "and it seems probable that many were working part-time at copying books after long hours put in at other full-time jobs, whether as canons, vicars or schoolmasters, as legal scriveners or as clerks in government offices in London and Westminster" (186). Crucially, such scribes needed to reside outside the London city limits, or in one of the several liberties within the City, to avoid violating gild laws, and much of Mooney's chapter seeks to identify who they were and where they lived. Hoccleve, partly responsible for the Cambridge, Trinity College MS R.3.2 Confessio Amantis, was one such (194-95; 197); another was the French-born "Richard Franceys or Ricardus Franciscus" who "appears to have moved from one government office to another, or possibly to have taken commissions from them as a free-lance scribe living outside the City or within one of the liberties of the City" (199). Franceys may have been "moonlighting out of the heralds' offices in the liberty of Blackfriars when he made copies of English vernacular works .. .including Gower's Confessio Amantis" (i.e., New York, Pierpont Morgan Library MS M 126) (200). [RFY. Copyright. The John Gower Socity. JGN 281.]

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Confessio Amantis
Manuscripts and Textual Studies

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