This innovative study investigates the reception of medieval manuscripts over a long century, 1470–1585, spanning the reigns of Edward IV to Elizabeth I. Members of the Tudor gentry family who owned these manuscripts had properties in Willesden and professional affiliations in London. These men marked the leaves of their books with signs of use, allowing their engagement with the texts contained there to be reconstructed. Through detailed research, Margaret Connolly reveals the various uses of these old books: as a repository for family records; as a place to preserve other texts of a favourite or important nature; as a source of practical information for the household; and as a professional manual for the practising lawyer. Investigation of these family-owned books reveals an unexpectedly strong interest in works of the past, and the continuing intellectual and domestic importance of medieval manuscripts in an age of print.
Introduction; 1. Family matters: the Roberts family of Willesden; 2. Private faces in public places; 3. Devotional reading in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII; 4. Out of the cloister, out of the family; 5. Books and their uses; 6. Devotional reading in the reigns of Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I; Conclusion: Newly reformed readers?; Postscript: after the family: the manuscripts' later histories; Appendix 1. Timeline of key events during the lifetimes of Thomas and Edmund Roberts; Appendix 2. Summary list of contents of manuscripts owned by the Roberts family; Appendix 3. Manuscripts and printed books of uncertain association; Appendix 4. Other families named Roberts; Bibliography; Index of manuscripts; General Index.
Margaret Connolly is Senior Lecturer in Medieval Studies at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Her previous publications include Insular Books: Vernacular manuscript miscellanies in late medieval Britain, edited with Raluca Radulescu (2015); The Index of Middle English Prose, Handlist XIX: Manuscripts in the University Library, Cambridge (2009); Design and Distribution of Late Medieval Manuscripts in England, edited with Linne Mooney (2008); and John Shirley: Book Production and the Noble Household (1998).
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