Rare Book School

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M-70. English Paleography, 1500-1750

Heather Wolfe

This course provides an intensive introduction to handwriting in early modern England, with a particular emphasis on English secretary hand. Working from digital images, color photocopies, and manuscripts, participants will be trained in the accurate reading and transcription of secretary, italic, and mixed hands. Participants are requested to bring laptops if possible. We will also experiment with contemporary writing materials (quills, iron gall ink, and paper), learn the terminology for describing and comparing letter forms, decipher abbreviations, numbers, and dates, and discuss the important and evolving role of handwritten documents within a wider context of print, manuscript, and oral cultures. By the end of the week, each participant will create a “mini-edition” of a manuscript.

This course is intended for anyone who works with English manuscripts from the Tudor and Stuart periods.

Course Resources

Course History


Heather Wolfe teaches this course for the first time.