John Rylands Library and English Language Studies

14 01 2014

Manchester Students from Linguistics and English Language are using high resolution images in LUNA to dual benefit: working with original documents allows them to find real-life examples of the linguistic history they have been studying, while editing those documents using LUNA enables the creation of searchable text to go with the images.

Small groups of dissertation students have been editing several folios each of previously unedited Middle English manuscripts in the Rylands Medieval Collection. They present the text of their chosen  extract, provide a glossary, and explore aspects of the language, handwriting or textual history. The exercise has proved enjoyable and rewarding, with some outstanding dissertations produced. The first such student has gone on to an MA and now a PhD involving Middle English.

A new venture this year sees students on the final-year course Modern English Language (1500-present) each editing a letter from the Mary Hamilton Papers as part of their coursework. This rich collection of eighteenth-century documents is the subject of research projects in Europe and North America on history, literature and culture. In addition to writing a linguistic commentary, our students have to produce a text marked up to modern encoding standards.

Most work, whether Middle or Modern English, is done with online images, but students visit Deansgate to get an even better sense of the originals – and the beautiful library which houses them.

David Denison

Smith Professor of English

Language & Medieval Literature

Forme of Cury

30 03 2011

We are pleased to announce that English MS 7 (Forme of Cury) has now been transcribed by our two volunteers, Mary Begley & Jasmine Sparrow, and is available on LUNA. The Forme Of Cury is a medieval recipe book, written by the Master Chef of King Richard II of England.  It contains many fascinating recipes, including some rather odd dishes containing the likes of porpoise.

Mary & Jasmine graduated from the School of Language, Linguistics & Cultures last year with first class honours and have been a great help to the MMEMS project. They will continue volunteering with us & will work on transcribing more of the English MS we have already digitised. Indeed, Mary has already begun work on English MS 1310 – ‘On Urines’.

recipe for Drepe, and Mawmene

The above recipes are as follows;

(.xix.) Drepee. Take bla(u)nched alma(u)nd(es) grynd he(m) & temp(er) vp with gode broth take oyno(u)ns a grete q(ua)ntite. p(ar)boyle he(m) & fry he(m) & do þerto.
take smale bridd(es) p(ar)boile hem & do þ(er)to. & do þ(er)to pellydore & salt & a litul grece.

(.xx.) Mawmene. Take a potel of wyne creke. & ii. pou(n)nde of sug(ur). take and clarifye þe sug(ur) w(i)t(h) a q(ua)ntite of wyne & drawe it þorow a st(ra)yno(ur) i(n) to a pot of erthe.

Arabic MS 42

10 01 2011

Work has begun today on a new digitisation project ‘Gateway to the Koran of Kansuh al-Ghuri’ (funded by TIMA).  Arabic MS 42 will be fully digitised & be made freely available online.  The whole process is expected to take about 3 weeks. Please check out the project blog for updates / info.

Jim Duff assessing the Koran in Collection Care.

More incunables

5 01 2011
As mentioned previously, here is a complete list of the 57 incunables we have digitised by the Centre for Heritage Imaging & Collection Care thanks to funding by Gale Publishing.  Amongst these incunables is a copy of Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.  Part of the Spencer Collection, it was printed by Wynkyn de Worde on 25 March 1498.  Although our copy (JRL 15396) is imperfect, it is the only known surviving copy.
Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur
Page from Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur

For those Malory enthusiasts out there, please take a look at the Malory Project site.  The Malory Project is an electronic edition and commentary of Malory’s Morte Darthur (1469-70), with digital facsimiles of the Winchester Manuscript (British Library, Add. MS 59678) and John Rylands Copy of Caxton’s first edition.

More exciting digitisation plans

4 01 2011

There are several exciting digitisation projects in the pipeline for 2011:

1. The famous Mappemonde, a huge French map created in 1546.  The map, measuring 2.6 meters long, has been photographed in the past, using 5×4 equipment.  Our Phase One P65+ however, along with new techniques, will allow us to capture much more detail than the original transparencies.  Our JRUL Imaging Services team (Suzanne Fagan & Gwen Jones) will be working on this project.

French MS 1 Mappemonde

2. ‘Gateway to the Koran of Kansuh al-Ghuri’ funded by TIMA.  We will be digitising Arabic MS 42, a 16th century Koran.  The manuscript measures a whopping 84cm by 54cm.  Once described by Alphonse Mingana as “possibly the biggest Koran in the world”, all 470 leaves are highly decorated with gold leaf.  The manuscript will require us to build a special foam ‘cradle’ to support it throughout the process.  It also requires special moving and handling due to its size, and it has to be covered and held end up, as it will not fit in any of the buildings lifts laying flat!

The title page of the giant Koran

French MS 1, The Rochefoucauld Grail

8 12 2010
French MS1 143v

French MS1 143v

Some people may have heard of the Rochefoucauld Grail, an illuminated medieval manuscript that was recently sold by Sotheby’s for over £2 million.

These three volumes auctioned by Sotheby’s were originally part of a set of four.  The fourth and final volume is itself split between the John Rylands (French MS. 1) and the Bodleian (Douce MS. 215).

All the images of French MS 1 can be found here.


6 12 2010

John Rylands Library holds an incredible collection of incunables.  As part of a partnership with Gale Publishing, the Centre for Heritage Imaging & Collection Care (CHICC) have embarked on an ambitious project to digitise a number of them.  Earlier this year, Gale selected a small number for the CHICC team to begin with.  Now available online in the Rylands Medieval Collection are (JRUL reference number in brackets):

  • Luca Pulci, Cyriffo Calvaneo (13735)
  • Marsilio Ficino, De Christiana religione (16751)
  • Cristoforo Landino, Formulario di epistole (17427)
  • Aesopus moralisatus (17645)
  • Luca Pulci, Il Driadeo (18183)
  • Domenico Cavalca, Frutti della lingua (9785.1)
  • Domenico Cavalca, Specchio di Croce (9785.2)
  • Angelo Poliziano, Silva cui titulus Manto (20797.1)
  • Angelo Poliziano, Silva cui titulus Rusticus (20797.2)
  • Angelo Poliziano, Silva cui titulus Ambra (20797.3)
  • Angelo Poliziano, Silva cui titulus Nutricia (20797.4)
  • Gerardus de Lisa, Mirabilia Romae (21324.1)
  • Suetonius, De grammaticis et rhetoribus (21324.2)
  • Sextus Aurelius Victor, De viris illustribus (21324.3)
  • Soprascripti et introscripti di lettere (21324.4)
  • Giovanni Boccaccio, Decamerone (18201)

CHICC are currently digitising another 57 incunables from our collection, the majority of which were printed in England.  Photography is nearly complete & so begins the painstaking job of cataloguing them all….  All incunabula will be freely available online in 2011.

If anyone has a particular interest in incunabula, it is worth having a look at the Cambridge Incunabula Project, which aims to create specialist records for all the incunables in the Library’s online catalogue, with special emphasis on copy-specific information such as anomalies, rubrication, decoration and illumination, annotations, binding, marks of ownership, and provenance.  The Project cataloguer is Dr. Laura Nuvoloni – have a look at her blog.


6 12 2010

All 41 Medieval English MS chosen for the JISC-funded Manchester Middle English Manuscripts project are now fully catalogued & available online in the Rylands Medieval Collection.

John Rylands Library Image Collection blog

16 11 2010

Check out the new blog for the John Rylands Library Image Collection – all comments gratefully received!

Transcription plans…

18 10 2010

An exciting development in the Manchester Middle English Manuscripts project…  Two volunteers, Mary Begley & Jasmine Sparrow, will be working on a transcription of English MS 7 (Forme of Cury). Mary & Jasmine have both recently completed BAs in English Language at the University of Manchester. Upon completion, the transcriptions will be available in the Luna record for English MS 7.