Looking into week two of the London Rare Books School (LRBS), John Sellars, Research Fellow at King’s College London, tells us about The Medieval Book. 

“I attended ‘The Medieval Book’ course, led by renowned expert in the field and ex-curator of illuminated manuscripts at the British Library, Michelle Brown. We began with an overview of the whole period, from the rise of the codex in late antiquity to the birth of printing in the Renaissance. This was followed by a visit to the British Library to go behind the scenes and see a selection of manuscripts, introduced by current curators. This was followed by an inpromptu visit to the Treasures gallery with Michelle commenting on particular items of note. We then had a series of sessions on codicology and palaeography, examining the development of the physical book and scripts from late antiquity to the Renaissance. This included an introduction to abbreviations often used in medieval manuscripts.

We then went upstairs to Senate House Library to see some manuscript fragments and to look at facsimiles of key books, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Luttrel Psalter (Michelle had been intimately involved in the production of both). On the final day we visited the V&A where we were in the hands of Rowan Watson, their curator of illuminated manuscripts. Rowan focused on books of hours, and we had the opportunity to get hands-on with a dozen or so examples from the V&A collection.

The course was absolutely fascinating. I don’t think it would have been possible to learn any more about medieval books in a single week than we did. Both Michelle and Rowan were excellent guides into this rich and complex subject. I came away with a thirst to delve deeper into the material, and a shopping list of two-dozen books to buy and read!”

We would like to thank John for allowing us to gain an insight into LRBS this year, you can take a look at John’s website here or follow him on Twitter by clicking here