University of Virginia Library

The Booklets Of The Findern Anthology

In any analysis of the composition of this manuscript, the question of booklets is of the first order.9 Kate Harris, whose study of this manuscript's make-up is impeccable, argued that it does not break down into individual booklets but rather was planned as a single codicological unit. However, Ralph Hanna subsequently demonstrated, using Harris's evidence, that indeed the Findern Anthology does comprise a series of independent fascicles, produced as separate units and only later brought together into a single volume.10 The appearance of the same scribe and same paper stock across the various sections, Hanna shows, is not evidence against the case for fascicularity, as Harris contended, but rather in favor of it. Hanna goes on to identify where individual texts correspond with the end of a quire, a likely sign of the completion of a booklet.

The booklets of the Findern Anthology divide up as follows. In this division, I follow Hanna's earlier assessment, with the exception of his Booklet V, containing Sir Degrevant, whose concluding quires were produced separately, as I argue below. Hanna offers the following division into booklets:11

  • Booklet I: quires A-B-C, fols. 3–20, 29–44
  • Booklet II:12 quire bb, fols. 21–28
  • Booklet III:13 quire E-D, fols. 45–63, 68–76
  • Booklet IV:14 quire e, fols. 64–67
  • Booklet V: quires F-G-H, fols. 81-115
  • Booklet VI: quires I-K-L-M, fols. 116–142
  • Booklet VII: quire N, fols. 143 -164


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  • Booklet VIII: quire O, fols. 166–179
  • Booklet IX: quire P, fols. 181–188

Since the ending of Sir Degrevant in Booklet V was, I will argue, produced separately, I hereafter modify Hanna's division by subdividing this booklet into Va (the part that was produced along the same lines as the rest of the manuscript) and Vb (produced separately).

My own analysis reveals that each of these booklets, save II, IV, Vb and VII, is mutually dependent, with paper stocks, scribes, or exemplars connecting them to the other booklets. Such a state of mutually dependent booklets strongly suggests that all these parts of the manuscript—that is, almost the entirety of the Findern Anthology—was made by a team working together. By the term team, I do not mean to suggest that the production of the manuscript was an organized affair, as all the evidence points to quite ad hoc methods. Rather, the appearance of the same scribes and materials in so many of these booklets indicates that they were produced near one another within a relatively small window of time. The logical conclusion to follow from this is that this team was local, somehow connected to the region of these gentry readers, either as scribes already in their employ or available for hire from a nearby town (perhaps Derby?), a conclusion affirmed by my linguistic analysis, discussed below.

In assessing the relationship between the component parts of this manuscript, we must start with the watermarks and scribal stints. If a watermark or stint appears in multiple booklets, then we can reasonably assume that the production of those two booklets is connected—likely made in the same locale in a time not too far from one another (excluding a scribe who added "filler" to the end of a booklet, which could always be done after the completion of the main scribal stints). As I will show, all the booklets—save four—are mutually dependent. Two of these four outliers (viz. Booklets II and IV) may have been produced commercially, purchased and placed within the compilation, as I discuss below. But in the case of Sir Degrevant, as I will show, its booklet should be considered the centerpiece of this codex.

One of the watermarks, by itself, unites much of this manuscript: Mark 4, that is, can be found in Booklets III, VI, VIII and IX.15 To this we can add the evidence of common scribal stints: in particular Scribe 6 appears in Booklets III and VI, which both contain the common watermark 4, as well as Booklet I, thereby bringing Booklet I into the orbit of sections of this manuscript that must have been produced together.16 Scribe 6 writes in a very erect Secretary script, dotting his/her –i with a long stroke that runs upward at a 45-degree angle, putting a cross through his/her double –l, and employing a large otiose stroke on final –n. Moreover, he/she alternates between an Anglicana and Secretary –w, with the Anglicana form of this graph particularly noteworthy because of the scribe's unusual practice of separating the two loops of its body. In sum, then, my palaeo-


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graphical analysis confirms the identity of Harris's scribe 6 across three distinct sections of this manuscript. The use of a common exemplar for the selections from Gower's Confessio amantis further supports the connections between these booklets, and also draws Booklet Va into this grouping of mutually dependent parts: as Harris elsewhere shows, all of the selections from Gower's Confessio in this manuscript derive from a common exemplar.17 In this case, the Gower bits appear in Booklets I and III (already connected via watermarks) and Va.

The appearance of Mark 4, Scribe 6, and a common Gower exemplar in much of this manuscript leaves only Booklets II, IV, Vb and VII unaccounted for. Booklet VII was certainly produced locally and should thus be thought of as similar to the mutually dependent booklets discussed above. It contains a single composite quire, one Hanna aptly labels a "monster."18 This quire is definitely an anomaly within this compilation, for its opening and closing leaves are left blank and it is filled entirely with lyrics, most of which survive uniquely in this volume. This quire provided the main place for these gentry readers to copy out their own lyrics, placing them in a self-contained quire that could easily be passed around to allow for various individuals to try their hand at poetasting. Such a condition would explain the unusual circumstance of the opening and closing leaves being blank. The composite nature of this quire, with individual bifolia being added accretively, would underwrite the informal and ad-hoc nature of amateur lyric composition, for surely the addition of these lyrics did not require any great planning but was rather done on the spur of the moment. The Finderns, then, reserved this quire for their less formal writing. This leaves us only with Booklets II, IV and Vb as potentially produced separately from the rest of the manuscript.

In fact, I think it quite likely that all three of these sections were produced separately from the remainder of this codex. Booklets II and IV are, as Harris shows and as Hanna confirms, later additions nested inside of quires B and E, respectively. Booklet II, was, I would argue, likely produced commercially, purchased by the Finderns and added to already-constructed quires within their growing compilation of Middle English verse. One clue to its commercial production comes in the quality of script and the attention paid to its mise-en-page, something noticeably lacking in the rest of this manuscript, one which Ethel Seaton rightly describes as a "very unprofessional manuscript."19 This quire contains Clanvowe's Book of Cupid, copied in a quite competent Secretary script, with even spacing between stanzas, which lends the page a clean and pleasing appearance, as if the scribe put a good deal of planning into the execution of the text.20 The second independent booklet is IV, which contains the story of Piramus


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and Thisbe from Chaucer's Legend of Good Women. Like the scribe of Booklet II, this scribe has left a space for a two-line initial, something one would expect of a booklet produced by a commercial scribe, leaving the owner to have the initial executed—should he/she desire. The most important piece of evidence pointing to separate production for these two booklets is that neither their paper stock nor their scribes appear elsewhere in the Findern Anthology. Given all this evidence, it is quite likely that these were produced by scriptores, but whether in London or some other book-producing city I have not been able to determine.21 There is precedence for the commercial production of independent booklets containing the works of important Middle English authors (as these two booklets contain): Julia Boffey and John J. Thompson survey numerous such "mini-anthologies" of Middle English authors circulating in the fifteenth century.22 Such an origin also seems quite likely for these "two extraneous units,"23 leaving only Booklet Vb.


For a discussion of booklets in manuscripts, see P. R. Robinson, "'The Booklet': A Self-Contained Unit in Composite Manuscripts," Codicologica 3 (1980): 46–69; Ralph Hanna, Pursuing History: Middle English Manuscripts and Their Texts (Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press, 1996), 21–34; and Erik Kwakkel, "Towards a Terminology for the Analysis of Composite Manuscripts," Gazette du livre médiéval 41 (2002): 12–19.


Harris, "The Origins and Make-up," 299–333; and Hanna, "The Production," 62 -70.


Note that in what follows, there are no fols. 77–80, 165, and 180. Fols. 77–80 are unaccounted for in the manuscript's current foliation. Henry Bradshaw initially postulated the existence of a lost quire of 4 folios between 76 and 81, to which he assigned numbers. However, the more recent collation rejects Bradshaw's hypothesis and thus eliminates fols. 77–80 from its count. Likewise, Bradshaw posited an outer bifolium of quire O, which he numbered fols. 165 and 180. These numbers also do not exist in the current foliation. See Beadle and Owen, Introduction, The Findern Manuscript, ix–xi.


An independently produced quire nested inside quire B. Hanna, "The Production," 65, identifies fols. 22–28 as comprising quire bb, calling this quire an 8, wanting the first leaf. However, I have emended this to encompass fol. 21, which, though now a stub, must have originally been part of this quire and was subsequently excised or damaged and lost. Thus, this quire must have been a complete 8 when originally produced, with the first leaf left blank.


Now bound as D, then E, though originally copied as E, then D.


An independently produced quire nested inside quire E.


Throughout, I follow the numbering of the watermarks in Harris, "The Origins and Make-up," 329–331, whose work is remarkably accurate and thorough. I offer a few corrections to Harris's watermark identifications below in note 42.


Throughout, I follow the identification of scribal stints in Harris, "The Origins and Make-up," 331–333.


Harris, "Ownership and Readership: Studies in the Provenance of the Manuscripts of Gower's Confessio amantis" (D.Phil. thesis, University of York, 1993), 41, shows that "Collation of the Gower extracts reveals that they derive from a second recension source, presumably a single copy remaining available to all the copyists concerned."


Hanna, "The Production," 66.


Seaton, Sir Richard Roos, c. 1410–c. 1482: Lancastrian Poet (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1961), 89.


This booklet does contain the hand of the ubiquitous Scribe 4, though his stint comes on the final leaf of the quire, where he copies a filler lyric. The appearance of his hand adding filler to the quire does not undermine the case for the separate production of this quire since scribe 4 could easily have added this lyric upon the acquisition of the quire.