– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

World Book Day

Much of what happens on World Book Day is associated with children’s reading, reading in schools, improving national literacy levels and so on, which is great. But I’m going to take the opportunity to make a list of a few of my favourite places to browse, mostly about medieval books and mostly with lots of splendid images. They all have lists of links and further reading and so on, so any one is a way to start the virtual equivalent of the humanities grad student’s favourite activity, the footnote trail, where looking up one book leads on to another, and then another… I can think of worse ways to spend World Book Day than doing the real-open-stack equivalent in Cambridge’s University Library, shelf-surfing from South Front 1 to North Wing 6…

  • Online exhibitions at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge –  my favourites are the Utamaro books and the Macclesfield Psalter, and off the books topic, they have a lovely exhibition of netsuke too.
  • Tours of the British Library’s Digital Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts, which is expanding its coverage and increasing in detail and images all the time. I especially recommend the ‘Treasures Known and Unknown’ tour.
  • Medieval manuscripts online at the National Library of Wales – have a look at the Llanbeblig Hours and the Laws of Hywel Dda
  • Oxford has access (by subscription) to the Medieval Travel Writing site, so if you’re on the Oxford network, do have a look. This is also available at the British Library and many university and other reference libraries.
  • For more about travel books and much else, have a browse through the ABE Books staff features archive – don’t miss the lists at the bottom of the page.
  • Need inspiration for your own reading list? Explore some book blogs – I can recommend starting your trail with Stuck in a Book, written by Simon. He writes for work at Oxford Words, which is also highly worth a peruse!
MS Balliol 208, f.109r

Let the dog see the rabbit – MS Balliol 208, f.109r

International Book and Copyright Day is coming up on April 23rd…

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