Medieval manuscripts are counted among the greatest glories of Western civilization. With their gold and painted decoration and their charming miniatures, they have always had immense appeal, and images from them can be seen everywhere - from greeting cards and wrapping paper to expensive facsimiles. This entertaining and authoritative book is the first to provide a general introduction to the whole subject of the making of books from the Dark Ages to the invention of printing and beyond.
Christopher de Hamel vividly describes the widely different cir¬cumstances in which manuscripts were created, from the earliest monastic Gospel Books to university textbooks, secular romances, Books of Hours and classical texts for humanist bibliophiles. As the story unfolds the wonderful variety of manuscripts and their illumi¬nation is revealed, and many fundamental questions are answered - who wrote the books, what texts they contained, who read them, how they were made and what purposes they served.
Illuminated manuscripts have always been highly valued, and among them are some of the world's great masterpieces of art. With its lively narrative and many new and superb illustrations, this new edition of a much-praised book provides the perfect introduc¬tion to a large and fascinating subject.
What others have said
Christopher de Hamel is the Fellow Librarian of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. For 25 years he was responsible for all sales of medieval and illuminated manuscripts at Sotheby's in London. He has a doctorate from Oxford University and an honorary doctorate from St John's University, Collegeville, Minnesota. He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. His other books include Glossed Books of the Bible (1991), Scribes and Illuminators (1992) and The British Library Guide to Manuscript Illumination (2001).
- “It is no mere history, but an original, lively and richly illustrated commentary.” Times Literary Supplement
- ”The wealth of de Hamel's contribution to our deeper comprehension of the illuminated book is enormous, both in his fresh and delightful essay, and in his telling use of photographs.” Country Life
- ”Suffice it to say that there is not a dull word ... in the whole book, and that professional as well as beginners can (and should) read it with profit as well as pleasure.” The Book Collector
2nd edition, revised, enlarged, new illustrations, 7th reprint, 2007, Pb, 272pp, 25 x 29 cm