Book Series Texts and Transitions, vol. 6

The Making of the Vernon Manuscript

The Production and Contexts of Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Eng. poet. a. 1

Wendy Scase (ed)

  • Pages: 334 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:62 b/w, 41 col., 2 tables b/w.
  • Language(s):English, Latin, French
  • Publication Year:2013

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53046-8
  • Hardback
  • Available

The Vernon Manuscript, the largest and arguably the most important Middle English anthology, is examined in its entirety in this ground-breaking, interdisciplinary study.


"This impressive and expertly edited volume contributes significantly to our understanding of one of medieval England's most important books. (...) Unlike so many recent collections organized around loosely defined themes, these essays are highly focused and interrelated, and as a group they certainly meet the goal of examining in depth the making of the Vernon manuscript." (Richard K. Emmerson, in: The Medieval Review 14.09.03)

"In conclusion, this volume is a tremendous achievement, balancing a focus on accumulated data concerning the identification of scribal and artistic hands with a broader assessment of the circulation and status of Middle English religious texts during the period. Its findings will prove immensely beneficial to both manuscript specialists and those interested in the literary history of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries more generally." (Helen Marshall, in: The Mediaeval Journal, 4.2 (2014), p. 145-147)

"The Brepols series ‘Texts and Transitions’ adds another fine scholarly contribution to its collection with this thorough investigation of Oxford, Bodl. Libr., MS Eng. poet. a. 1, better known as the Vernon manuscript. The collection of essays edited by Wendy Scase is a significant addition to scholarship on the Vernon manuscript." (D. Renevey, in: Scriptorium, 2015/01, nr. 172)

«En somme, pour le lecteur qui s’intéresse aux questions de la production, de la diffusion et de l’influence des textes vernaculaires en Angleterre à la fin du Moyen Age, ce livre est une lecture obligatoire.» (Stephen Morrison, dans le Moyen Age, 3-4, 2015, p. 825)



Prof. Wendy Scase (University of Birmingham) is a specialist in medieval English language and literature with strong manuscripts, archival, and interdisciplinary experience


This volume addresses important questions in late medieval book production and the history of the medieval book through original and substantial studies of one of the most remarkable surviving examples. The Vernon Manuscript, carefully copied and lavishly decorated around 1390-1400 for pious users, is famous as the largest and arguably the most important Middle English anthology. Its sheer size and conservation concerns mean that up to now it has been little studied as a book. The essays in this volume exploit for the first time the mass of new data generated by the Vernon Manuscript Project. Specialists in art history, bibliography, codicology, historical linguistics, and palaeography have been commissioned to interrogate this material from their various disciplinary perspectives. The result is a ground-breaking interdisciplinary volume which sheds new light on an iconic medieval book and on a transitional period of innovation and experimentation in vernacular book production.


List of Illustrations





Part I. Copying, Editing, and Assembly of the Vernon Manuscript

Codicology, Palaeography, and Provenance — A. I. DOYLE

The Scribes of the Vernon Manuscript — SIMON HOROBIN

Mapping the Language of the Vernon Manuscript — JEREMY J. SMITH

Editorial Politics in the Vernon Manuscript — RYAN PERRY

Rubrics, Opening Numbering, and the Vernon Table of Contents — WENDY SCASE

Part II. Decoration and Illustration of the Vernon Manuscript

Border Artists of the Vernon Manuscript — REBECCA FARNHAM

The Miniatures in the Vernon Manuscript — ALISON STONES

The Artistic Origins of the Vernon Manuscript — LYNDA DENNISON

The Artists of the Vernon Initials — WENDY SCASE

Appendix to Part II: Division of Artists’ Hands/Decoration Types

Part III. Models, Analogues, and Patronage of the Vernon Manuscript

Patronage Symbolism and Sowlehele — WENDY SCASE

Some Vernon Analogues and their Patrons — WENDY SCASE

The Patronage of the Vernon Manuscript — WENDY SCASE


Index of Manuscripts

General Index