Entries Tagged as 'british library'

The British Library Journal is Now Online

NEWS: The British Library Journal (eBLJ) is Now Online.

A few months ago, the British Library drew your attention to the Electronic British Library Journal, which publishes scholarly research into the history of the BL and its collections (Medieval News and Views). The eBLJ (for short) is the successor to the British Library Journal, which appeared between 1975 and 1999. We are delighted to report that articles from the British Library Journal are now available online, bringing the combined back catalogue of the British Library Library and eBLJ into one simple location.

A full listing of British Library Journal articles from 1975 onwards is found here. Below you will find hyperlinks to those contributions relating to ancient, medieval and early modern manuscripts. The topics covered include Magna Carta, Codex Sinaiticus, the Bedford Hours, the Cotton Genesis, Christine de Pizan, and the Sforza Hours; while a quick glance at the list of contributors – among them Janet Backhouse, Christopher de Hamel, Thomas Kren, Nigel Morgan and Colin Tite – emphasizes the journal’s scholarly reputation.

The library continues to welcome contributions to the Electronic British Library Journal, and will also endeavour to publicise the fruits of that research in the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog.

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The Pleasure of Discovery

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Pleasure of Discovery, Session at the Leeds International Medieval Congress 2013.

It’s Call-for-Papers week at the British Library’s Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts department! We are pleased to announce that the BL will be inviting contributions for several sponsored sessions at the IMC in Leeds 2013.  The Congress will take place from 1-4 July 2013, and will focus on the theme of ‘Pleasure’ (for more information on the 2013 Congress, please click here).

In keeping with this ‘Pleasure’ theme, we would like to invite papers in the following two categories:

1. Books of Pleasure / The Pleasure of Books:
The book was a source of pleasure throughout the Middle Ages, from Augustine’s ‘book of the heart’ to Richard de Bury’s Philobiblon. The very nature of pleasure—what it entailed and whence it derived—was not uniform, and artists, authors and readers all expressed their pleasure in a variety of forms. This session seeks papers that address the pleasure given (and taken) from books. Topics to be addressed might include (but are not limited to) any of the following:
- visual or narrative depictions of leisure and pleasure / the iconography of pleasure
- the complexities and contradictions of writing about or illustrating pleasure
- explorations of the pleasure of books: creating, illuminating, owning, or reading

2. The Pleasure of Discovery: Recent Research and New Perspectives on British Library Manuscripts:
The Manuscripts Reading Room in the British Library is often privileged to witness new discoveries and the birth of fresh perspectives on objects in our collections. The pleasure in the moment of discovery and the urge to shout ‘Eureka!’ is, however, often muted out of respect for fellow researchers and the necessity of keeping quiet in a place of work. In the spirit of this conference theme, we invite papers that give full expression to the pleasures of discovery.

We are particularly interested in any recent research, new assessments, or (as yet) unpublished discoveries within the medieval manuscripts in the British Library’s collections and encourage participants to re-live their initial jubilation in the moment of discovery.

Papers accepted for inclusion in the British Library’s sponsored sessions may be submitted for peer-review for special publication in the Electronic British Library Journal (the eBLJ). The British Library will also make available any extant manuscript photography for participants for use in their presentations.

Please email your abstract of about 100 words (per 20 minute paper) no later than 17 September 2012 to Sarah J Biggs. Please feel free to contact the BL with any questions.

Bursaries are available from the IMC to help defray the cost of accommodation and registration.

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Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Users

CALL FOR PAPERS: Illuminated Manuscripts and Their Users, Durham University, Wednesday, 6 June 2012 (beginning at 14.00) (click here).

The first session will focus on the use of digital resources in manuscript research, with a presentation by Dr Joanna Fronska (The British Library), Behind the scenes process of digitisation, followed by a roundtable discussion of the use and value of online digital resources.

The second session will consist of short panel presentations/discussion on illuminated manuscripts in the Royal collection, addressing one of the following questions:
* How were the illuminated manuscripts in the royal library used and received by their owners?
* What are the characteristics of illustrated manuscripts collected by English monarchs?
* How did monastic manuscripts enter the royal collection, or what was their function within the library?
* How representative is what survives of the royal library, and why is there a relative lack of liturgical or private devotional books in the royal collection?

The content of the presentations will be circulated before the workshop to enable participants to formulate questions/responses in advance.

If you would like to be considered as a presenter, please submit a 500-word essay to Professor Richard Gameson. Deadline: 25 May 2012.

Learn more about the Royal Workshop.

The Psalter of Henry VI is Now Online

NEWS: The Psalter of Henry VI is Now Online.

Regular readers of the British Library blog will know that the British Library currently has a number of projects underway to make fully digitised medieval manuscripts available on the Digitised Manuscripts website – including the long-running Greek manuscript project, Harley Science, and our most recent undertaking, which will include a number of manuscripts from the Royal exhibition.

Alongside these projects is an ongoing effort to upload some of the British Library’s manuscript treasures, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels, the Old English Hexateuch, and the Æthelstan Psalter. Today we are pleased to announce the latest addition to this group – the Psalter of Henry VI (Cotton MS Domitian A. XVII), a beautifully illuminated 15th century Parisian manuscript.

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Unicorn Cookbook Found at the British Library

NEWS: Unicorn Cookbook Found at the British Library.

A long-lost medieval cookbook, containing recipes for hedgehogs, blackbirds and even unicorns, has been discovered at the British Library. Professor Brian Trump of the British Medieval Cookbook Project described the find as near-miraculous. “We’ve been hunting for this book for years. The moment I first set my eyes on it was spine-tingling.”

Experts believe that the cookbook was compiled by Geoffrey Fule, who worked in the kitchens of Philippa of Hainault, Queen of England (1328-1369). Geoffrey had a reputation for blending unusual flavours – one scholar has called him “the Heston Blumenthal of his day” – and everything points to his hand being behind the compilation.

After recipes for herring, tripe and codswallop (fish stew, a popular dish in the Middle Ages) comes that beginning “Taketh one unicorne”. The recipe calls for the beast to be marinaded in cloves and garlic, and then roasted on a griddle. The cookbook’s compiler, doubtless Geoffrey Fule himself, added pictures in its margins, depicting the unicorn being prepared and then served. Sarah J Biggs, a British Library expert on medieval decoration, commented that “the images are extraordinary, almost exactly as we’d expect them to be, if not better”.

The recipe for cooking blackbirds is believed to be the origin of the traditional English nursery rhyme “Sing a song of sixpence / A pocket full of rye / Four-and-twenty blackbirds / Baked in a pie.” Professor Trump added that he was tempted to try some of the recipes, but suspected that sourcing ingredients would be challenging. “Unfortunately, they don’t stock unicorn in my local branch of Tesco.”

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The British Library Online Catalogues

WEBSITES: Regular users of the British Library will know that two online manuscripts catalogues are currently in operation. The new system has the catchy title SOCAM (Search Our Catalogue: Archives and Manuscripts), and now contains all the catalogue descriptions previously available online, plus those for manuscripts catalogued since 2009. This is to encourage you to start using SOCAM as soon as possible, because the old system, MOLCAT (Manuscripts Online Catalogue), will be switched off in autumn 2012.

SOCAM has many advantages over the old system, for both users and cataloguers. In particular, it has an enhanced search facility, hopefully making it easier for users to locate what they’re looking for — no mean feat when you consider that most medieval manuscripts lack title-pages and sometimes any indication of date or place of origin. From the cataloguers’ perspective, there are now clear guidelines across the British Library as to which information should be recorded. Historically, different departments — the India Office, Asian and African Studies, Photographs and so forth — had different cataloguing standards, which have now been amalgamated for the benefit of our users.

Followers of the BL MSS blog may recall that cataloguing manuscripts isn’t a modern phenomenon. In a post published in October 2011 (Beauty in the eye of the beholder), we drew your attention to a late 12th or early 13th century catalogue compiled for the Benedictine monks of Rochester Cathedral. Then as now, the need to know what was to be found in a given library, and what each manuscript contains, is paramount.

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Six-month Volunteership at the British Library

Thanks to the generosity of the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the British Library is this year again able to offer a six-month volunteership for an American doctoral student to participate in the project team of the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts section of the History and Classics Department.

The student will be involved in all aspects of the work of the Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts section, including responding to enquiries, providing talks for students and patrons, selecting and presenting manuscripts for display in our exhibition gallery, and cataloguing, and thereby gaining insight into various curatorial duties and aspects of collection care.  During the volunteership at the Library, the student will enjoy privileged access to printed and manuscript research material, and will work alongside specialists with wide-ranging and varied expertise.  The student’s primary focus would be on supplementing the online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, by researching and adding descriptions of medieval manuscripts or illuminated incunabula, including the selection of pages to be photographed and reproduced.

The position is designed to provide an opportunity for the student to develop research skills and expertise in medieval and Renaissance art and history, and presenting manuscripts to a range of audiences.  This opportunity will contribute significantly to the ongoing work of the Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts and the Medieval and Earlier section.

Qualifications: The programme is only open to US citizens who are engaged actively in research towards, or have recently completed, a PhD in a subject area relevant to the study of pre-1600 illuminated manuscripts or incunabula.

Terms: The term of the placement is for a period of six months.  The placement is voluntary and therefore unpaid.  However, the successful applicant will be reimbursed in respect of actual expenses in the performance of his or her duties, such as direct travel expenses to London and commuting expenses to the British Library, accommodation, and immediate living expenses such as food (but not clothing), subject to a maximum of £8,000.  The volunteer will be responsible for making his or her own travel and accommodation arrangements.

If the applicant does not hold the right to work in the United Kingdom, the Library will sponsor the volunteer for a visa using the UK Border Agency’s points-based system under Tier 5 Charity Workers.  The successful candidate will be required to submit the relevant application form to the local processing centre.  The processing fee will be reimbursed by the Library.  No placement may commence until the appropriate right to work documents have been obtained and verified.

How to apply: Please send an application letter detailing the months you would be able to be in London, a résumé, and two reference letters to Dr Kathleen Doyle, Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts, The British Library, by email, or by post to 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.  All applicants will be notified of the results by the end of April 2012.  A telephone interview may be held.

Deadline: 30 March 2012.

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The British Library ‘Harley Science Project’

The British Library has embarked on a project to digitise some of its most prestigious medieval and early modern scientific manuscripts. Generously funded by William and Judith Bollinger, the project will supply complete coverage of selected items from the Harley collection, augmented by revised catalogue records for the books in question.

Medieval and early modern manuscripts are vital for transmitting ancient scientific thought to the modern world. The texts they contain document the roots of modern scientific enquiry, based on observation, experimentation and the testing of hypotheses.

The Harley collection is particularly rich in such material. One of the foundation collections of the British Library, it contains more than 7,000 manuscripts and 14,000 charters, collected by Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer (d. 1724), and his son Edward Harley (d. 1741). Edward Harley bequeathed the library to his widow, Henrietta, née Cavendish Holles (d. 1755), during her lifetime, and thereafter to their daughter, Margaret Cavendish Bentinck, Duchess of Portland (d. 1785). In 1753, the manuscripts were sold by the Countess and the Duchess to the British nation for £10,000 under the Act of Parliament that also established the British Museum.

The conservation, digitisation and cataloguing phases of this project are already underway. The manuscripts selected range in date from the 9th century to the 17th century, and are written in a variety of western European languages (including Latin, Old and Middle English, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian and Spanish). They embrace many aspects of early scientific knowledge, such as astronomy, the computus, mathematics, medicine and veterinary science.

It is anticipated that the Harley Science Project will provide full digital coverage and descriptions of some 150 manuscripts in the Harley collection. Not only to improve access to one of the British Library’s world-class collections, but to facilitate research and teaching devoted to those manuscripts.

The images and descriptions will be made available in due course via the Digitised Manuscripts site. Regular updates will be provided here as the project progresses.

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