Designing English

Early Literature on the Page

Daniel Wakelin

Designing English

Daniel Wakelin

Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

224 pages | 92 color plates | 9 1/4 x 10 1/4 | © 2017
Cloth $50.00 ISBN: 9781851244751 Published September 2018 For sale in North America only
Early manuscripts in the English language included religious works, plays, romances, poetry, and songs, as well as charms, notebooks, and scientific documents. Given this vast array, how did scribes choose to arrange the words and images on the page, and what visual guides did they give early readers to help them use and understand each manuscript?

Working beyond the traditions established for Latin, scribes of English needed to be more inventive, using each book as an opportunity to redesign. Surveying eight centuries of graphic design in manuscripts and inscriptions, Designing English focuses on the craft, agency, and intentions of scribes, painters, and engravers from the Anglo-Saxon to the early Tudor periods. The book examines format, layout, and decoration, as well as bilingual manuscripts and oral recitations, weighing the balance of ingenuity and copying, imagination and practicality, behind early English book design. With over ninety illustrations, drawn especially from the holdings of the Bodleian Library, Designing English gives a comprehensive overview of English books and other material texts across the Middle Ages.
 
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