Hidden Hands: The Lives of Manuscripts and Their Makers (Hardback)Mary Wellesley (author)
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As richly beautiful as it is informative, Hidden Hands’ skill is in bringing to life not only the works that are so essential to our literary and cultural history but the men and women – their quiet lives often unregarded – who created and preserved them.
Manuscripts teem with life. They are not only the stuff of history and literature, but they offer some of the only tangible evidence we have of entire lives, long receded.
Hidden Hands tells the stories of the artisans, artists, scribes and readers, patrons and collectors who made and kept the beautiful, fragile objects that have survived the ravages of fire, water and deliberate destruction to form a picture of both English culture and the wider European culture of which it is part.
Without manuscripts, she shows, many historical figures would be lost to us, as well as those of lower social status, women and people of colour, their stories erased, and the remnants of their labours destroyed.
From the Cuthbert Bible, to works including those by the Beowulf poet, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Sir Thomas Malory, Chaucer, the Paston Letters and Shakespeare, Mary Wellesley describes the production and preservation of these priceless objects. With an insistent emphasis on the early role of women as authors and artists and illustrated with over fifty colour plates, Hidden Hands is an important contribution to our understanding of literature and history.
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 767 g
Dimensions: 236 x 158 x 38 mm
'This is an engaging and beautiful book - the engagement arising from the author's deep commitment to understanding the lives of medieval women and men, and the beauty from her ability to make us see and hear them talking about and living their experiences. It isn't just an introduction to literary manuscripts but also a series of glimpses of the extraordinary diversity of medieval lives. Mary Wellesley has taken jewels from our bibliographic treasures and placed them, carefully and with love, in the palm of the reader's hand.' - Ian Mortimer
'Mary Wellesley is a born storyteller and Hidden Hands is as good as historical writing gets. Wellesley draws on her deep scholarly knowledge of medieval manuscripts to weave a captivating tale, told through generations of 'tremulous hands' and forgotten artistic geniuses, whose works inform so much of what we know today about the Middle Ages. This is a sensational debut by a wonderfully gifted historian.' - Dan Jones, bestselling author of The Plantagenets and The Templars.
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“Medieval manuscripts and their makers illuminated”
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This book is a thing of joy. Received as a present, not sure when I first opened it, but drawn into a new landscape. Outstandingly and engagingly written, new insights on every page. History, bibliophilia, a secret... More
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