Anonymous, MS Harley 2253

Susanna Fein (Kent State University)
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Introduction

London, British Library, MS Harley 2253 (c. 1340-1349) is an extraordinary manuscript from the West Midlands of England. In the history of Middle English literature, its early date—some forty years before the London-based poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer—underscores its exceptionalism. Without the survival of this manuscript, we would little suspect the vitality and range of early-fourteenth-century literature, to which it gives witness in 104 items copied across 184 pages of parchment. The texts preserved in Harley 2253 were collected by a scribe of sharp literary instincts. Although his name is unknown, we have access to a substantial portion of his library and scrivening oeuvre. We are thereby able to surmise details of his career, cultural milieu, and active period, which

4376 words

Citation: Fein, Susanna. "MS Harley 2253". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 03 February 2023 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=3402, accessed 17 April 2024.]

3402 MS Harley 2253 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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