Middle English Literature

On this page, you can learn more about the various medieval manuscripts in St John’s College Library that contain texts written in Middle English.

Oxford, St John’s College, MS 7, fol. 1r

MS 7

MS 7 contains a fifteenth-century copy of the later version of the Wycliffite Old Testament. John Wycliffe (d.1384) was an English theologian who advocated for the translation of the Bible into English. In this translation, Genesis begins ‘In þe begynnynge god made of nouȝt heuene & erth’ (fol. 1r).

A full catalogue entry is available here.

Oxford, St John’s College, MS 57, fol. 1r

MS 57

MS 57 contains several texts including two Middle English poems (The Prick of Conscience and Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls) and a London Chronicle ending in 1431/2. MS 57 was produced in England during the middle of the fifteenth century. The scribal dialect has been placed in Essex.

A full catalogue entry is available here.

Oxford, St John’s College, MS 79, fol. 1v

MS 79

MS 79, a copy of the Wycliffite Gospels, was produced in England at the beginning of the fifteenth century. John Wycliffe (d.1384) was an English theologian who advocated for the translation of the Bible into English. In this translation, Matthew begins ‘Mathew þat was of Iudee as he is sett first in ordre…’.

A full catalogue entry is available here.

Oxford, St John’s College, MS 138, fol. 3r

MS 138

MS 138 contains a copy of The Prick of Conscience, a fourteenth-century penitential poem. The Prick of Conscience is famous for surviving in more manuscripts than any other Middle English poem. This copy of the text was produced in England in the middle of the fifteenth century.

A full catalogue entry is available here.

St John’s College, MS 340, fol. 1v

MS 340

MS 340 is a fifteenth-century copy of the ‘The Calendar’ by the prolific English poet John Lydgate (d.c.1450). These five manuscript leaves are bound together with four books printed by William Caxton (d.1491), who is credited with introducing the printing press to England.

A full catalogue entry is available here.

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