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Manuscript Culture 1450-2000

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Wim Van Mierlo

on 2 May 2016

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Transcript of Manuscript Culture 1450-2000

Wim Van Mierlo
Manuscript Culture, 1450 - 2000
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Declaration of Independence
why does it exist in manuscript?
“This address in the presence of the public, his run upstairs and the porter he had gulped down so hastily confused the man and, as he sat down at his desk to get what was required, he realised how hopeless was the task of finishing his copy of the contract before half past five. The dark damp night was coming and he longed to spend it in the bars, drinking with his friends amid the glare of gas and the clatter of glasses. He got out the Delacour correspondence and passed out of the office. He hoped Mr. Alleyne would not discover that the last two letters were missing. […] The man returned to the lower office and sat down again at his desk. He stared intently at the incomplete phrase: In no case shall the said Bernard Bodley be... and thought how strange it was that the last three words began with the same letter. The chief clerk began to hurry Miss Parker, saying she would never have the letters typed in time for post. The man listened to the clicking of the machine for a few minutes and then set to work to finish his copy. But his head was not clear and his mind wandered away to the glare and rattle of the public-house. It was a night for hot punches. He struggled on with his copy, but when the clock struck five he had still fourteen pages to write. Blast it! He couldn't finish it in time. He longed to execrate aloud, to bring his fist down on something violently. He was so enraged that he wrote Bernard Bernard instead of Bernard Bodley and had to begin again on a clean sheet.”
James Joyce's "Counterparts" (1905)
contemporary manuscript culture
THE EARLY MODERN PERIOD,
1450-1700

Who is part of the manuscript culture?
"Scribes, scriveners, secretaries, copyist, amanuenses, writing masters, public officials, private individuals, authors, poets, playwrights, antiquarians, lawyers, scholars, politicians, divines, merchants, new and second-hand booksellers, stationers, printers, and librarians"
(H. R. Woudhuysen,
Sir Philip Sydney and the Circulation of Manuscripts, 1558-1640
, p. 1)
Chacteristics, 1450-1700
manuscripts circulate within a social and economic network
print was associated with mediocrity, 'grub' and the low-brow




the low cost of copying v. the high investment to set up and run a press
"Many idle humorists whose singularity allowes nothing good, that is common, in this frantik age, esteeme of verses upon which the vulgar in a Stationers Shop, hath once breathed as of a peece of infection, in whose fine fingers no papers are holesome, but such, as passe by privat manuscription" (Richard Niccols, 1614)

"[The antiquary condemns printed books] as a nouelty of this latter age; but a Manuscript he pores on euerlastingly" (John Earles)
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
What sets it apart from the manuscript culture in the Middle Ages?
scriptorium: duplication of copies
a form of publication (?)
production of documents: charters, letters, wills
very little personal/private writing
very little evidence of composition/revision
"draft" writing on ephemeral supports: wax tablets, vellum scraps
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Autograph by Giovanni Boccaccio Medieval wax tablet
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
THE MODERN PERIOD,
1700-1900

Significant Changes
growing literacy: writing becomes a more widespread skill, the professional scrivener disappears
manuscripts continue to be produced but their circulation no longer a "public" function

Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Causes for Change
education
economy and business
the postal system

Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Education
earliest grammar schools founded in the 1580s (by acts of charity) focused on teaching of Latin and classics – writing was a subsidiary subject and usually taught by traveling scriveners
by 1700 teaching programmes expanded to Latin, modern languages, arithmetick, and also writing
17C/18C writing-masters produced writing manuals, with examples of good hands and practical advice, and also often ran their own schools offering commercial training
Education Act of 1870
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Economy
Cromwell's Mercantile Act (1658) which dictated that all goods imported into England should be carried in English vessels created a new mercantile monopoly and an expansion in business administration.
The expanding Empire called for a colonial administration and also increase in business
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Postal system
Royal Mail established in 1516 by Henry VIII, mainly for official communications and exchange of intelligence
in 18C it became a ‘vehicle for literacy, free speech, commerce and communications’ (Postal Heritage Museum website) – an informal, unstructured communications circuit
1840 introduction of penny post, which increased postal traffic

These developments encouraged ‘private’ writing
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
"letter from Goslar", Dorothy Wordsworth, 1798
cross-written letter, Thomas James Leggett of Sedgeford, Norfolk (a Miller and Baker), to his fiancee/wife Rachel Binks, undated
Letters
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Hester Lynch Piozzi,
Minced Meat for Pyes
(1796-1820)
Common-place Books
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
S. T. Coleridge,
"Fancy in the Clouds" (1818)
Collector's Items
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
earliest extant autographs: John Donne (1572-1631), Ben Jonson (1572-1636)
earliest autographs deposited in public institution:
John Milton (1608-1674) at Trinity College Cambridge
Literary Heritage
“There is something to me repugnant, at any time, in the written hand. The text never seems determinate. Print settles it. I had thought of the Lycidas as a full-grown beauty—as springing up with all parts absolute—till, in evil hour, I was shown the original copy of it. […] How it staggered me to see the fine things in this ore! interlined, corrected! as if their words were mortal, alterable, displaceable, at pleasure! as if they might have been otherwise and just as good! as if inspiration were made up of parts, and these fluctuating, successive, indifferent! I will never go into the workshop of any great artist again”“There is something to me repugnant, at any time, in the written hand. The text never seems determinate. Print settles it. I had thought of the Lycidas as a full-grown beauty—as springing up with all parts absolute—till, in evil hour, I was shown the original copy of it. […] How it staggered me to see the fine things in this ore! interlined, corrected! as if their words were mortal, alterable, displaceable, at pleasure! as if they might have been otherwise and just as good! as if inspiration were made up of parts, and these fluctuating, successive, indifferent! I will never go into the workshop of any great artist again” (Charles Lamb)
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
The Wordsworth Circle: a "scribal" family
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
John Keats: autographs and scribal copies
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Charles Dickens: manuscripts for the press
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
THE MODERN PERIOD,
1900 - present

Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Significant Changes
universal literacy
new technologies: fountain pen, biro, typewriter, word processor
greater correlation between individual and his writing/writing habits
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Biography of the text
notes → drafts → fair copy → typescript → galley and page proofs → corrected edition
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Writing Culture
yet it is interesting to reflect on what has remained constant
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Reading/writing notes
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Rough drafts/working drafts
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Typescripts
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Galley and page proofs
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Corrected edition/post-publication revision
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Thank you

W.Van-Mierlo@lboro.ac.uk
@wvmierlo

W.Van-Mierlo@lboro.ac.uk
@wvmierlo
Medieval & Modern Manuscript Studies in the Digital Age
Examples of manuscript culture
letters
common-place books
manuscripts (mementoes and heritage objects)
Full transcript