Chaucer: Manuscripts

 

and Books

 

on the Web

 

 

 

Siân Echard’s home page

There are many places online where you can see manuscripts and early printed books of Chaucer’s works, but it is not always easy to know exactly what is available from any given resource. The links below will point you directly to individual manuscripts and books, but do remember to poke around the sites/ resources as well; there is much more to discover than I can list below.

All the manuscript images on this page are from the collection of the British Library, and are deemed to be in the public domain. The shelfmark for each manuscript appears below the image, and you can click on the image to go to more information and pictures on the British Library site.

The linked shelfmarks below should take you to the relevant images, but note that many online portals are in a perpetual state of redesign, and not all demonstrate best practices when it comes to permanent URLs. You may need to search the database, then, to find the manuscript: the shelfmark will usually suffice.

 

Manuscripts and Early Printed Books in UK/ European Collections

The institutions are arranged alphabetically by city

The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth has many digitized medieval manuscripts, including the famous Hengwrt Chaucer, now Peniarth 392D Peniarth 392D (The Canterbury Tales)
The Cambridge Digital Library includes complete digitizations of some manuscripts related to Chaucer, from the CUL and some Cambridge college libraries. Peterhouse 75.I (Equatorie of the Planetis, once thought to be by Chaucer)
Parker Library on the Web is a collection of complete digital versions of the manuscripts in the Parker Library, Corpus Christi College Cambridge. Corpus Christi College Cambridge 61 (Troilus and Criseyde)
Trinity College Cambridge has mounted full digitizations of many of its medieval manuscripts in the Wren Digital Library, including three Chaucer manuscripts.

R.3.3 (Canterbury Tales)

R.3.15 (Canterbury Tales)

R.15.18 (Includes Treatise on the Astrolabe)

e-codies: Virtual Manuscript Library of Switzerland aims to provide complete digital facsimiles of all medieval and selected early modern manuscripts in Switzerland. New manuscripts are still being added. Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, Bodmer 48 (Canterbury Tales)
The University of Glasgow has several Chaucer manuscripts available, in part or in full.

Hunter 197 (The Canterbury Tales; this MS and Hunter 239 below are part of an exhibition of Chaucerian and related manuscripts and early books)

Hunter 239 (An ABC)

Hunter 409 (Romaunt of the Rose, complete)

The British Library in London has selected folios from several of its Chaucerian manuscripts available in its online Catalogue of Illuminated Manuscripts.

London, BL Harley 2392, folio 1r

Egerton 2726 (Canterbury Tales)

Egerton 2863 (Canterbury Tales)

Harley 2280 (Troilus and Criseyde)

Harley 2392 (Troilus and Criseyde)

Harley 2421 (Boece)

Harley 7333 (Canterbury Tales)

Lansdowne 851 (Canterbury Tales)

Sloane 1685 (Canterbury Tales)

Sloane 1686 (Canterbury Tales)

There are also complete digitisaations of three Chaucer manuscripts in the Library's Digitised Manuscripts site.

Harley 1758 (Canterbury Tales)

Harley 7334 (Canterbury Tales)

Royal 17 D v (Canterbury Tales)

The British Library also has images from manuscripts related to Chaucer in some way.

London, BL Harley 2421, folio 1r

Additional 42131 (this is a complete digitisation of the Bedford Psalter and Hours; there are portraits of Chaucer on folios 16r, 34r, and 51v. See also the Gower portraits on folios 34v, 35r, 46v, 55r, 56v, 90v, 115r, 120r, 149v, 209v. The Digitised Manuscripts site is worth exploring: it is a growing collection of many famous manuscripts)

Harley 4866 (this manuscript of Thomas Hoccleve, Regiment of Princes, has a portrait of Chaucer on folio 88r)

Royal 17 D vi (this is another fully-digitised manuscript, in this case of the works of Thomas Hoccleve. There is a Chaucer portrait on folio 93v)

Royal 18 D ii (this is a fully-digitised manuscript of two works by John Lydgate, Troy Book and The Siege of Thebes. There is an image of the Canterbury pilgrims on folio 148r)

And finally, the British Library has a site where you can compare the 1476 and 1483 editions of the Canterbury Tales printed by William Caxton. Scroll further down this page for links to other early printings of Chaucer’s works. Treasures in Full: Caxton’s Chaucer is part of the larger Treasures in Full site, where you will find complete digital facsimiles of many famous books.
The John Rylands Library in Manchester has mounted complete digital versions of several Chaucer manuscripts, as well as of two early printings of the Canterbury Tales. There is also an image of the Retraction to the Canterbury Tales, written on the final leaf of a copy of Richard Pynson's 1492 printing.

Chetham's 6709 (Second Nun's Tale)

Petworth 486026 (The Canterbury Tales)

English 113 (The Canterbury Tales)

English 63 (The Canterbury Tales)

Spencer 11567 (Caxton's 1476 printing of the Canterbury Tales)

Spencer 8694 (Caxton's 1483 printing of the Canterbury Tales)

Spencer 10002 (the Retraction, written in a copy of Pynson's 1492 printing)

The Bodleian Library in Oxford has selected folios from quite a few of its Chaucerian manuscripts and early books available in its Digital Bodleian database. Some manuscripts from Oxford colleges are also included.

London, BL Harley 1758, folio 1r

Arch Selden B 14 (Canterbury Tales)

Arch Selden B 24 (Troilus and Criseyde, Legend of Good Women)

Ashmole 1095 (1532 printing of Camterbury Tales)

Barlow 20 (Canterbury Tales)

Bodley 68 (Treatise on the Astrolabe)

Bodley 414 (Canterbury Tales)

Bodley 638 (Book of the Duchess)

Bodley 686 (Canterbury Tales)

Christ Church 152 (Canterbury Tales; complete)

Corpus Christi College 198 (Canterbury Tales; complete)

Digby 181 (Complaint of the Black Knight)

Douce D 4 (Canterbury Tales)

Douce 218 (Richard Pynson's 1491 - 1492 printing of the Canterbury Tales; complete)

Fairfax 16 (Compleynt of Mars, Legend of Good Women, Book of the Duchess, House of Fame)

Hatton Donat. 1 (Canterbury Tales)

Rawlinson D 3 (Treatise on the Astrolabe)

Rawlinson D 913 (Treatise on the Astrolabe)

Rawlinson poet. 141 (Canterbury Tales)

Rawlinson poet. 223 (Canterbury Tales)

Tanner 346 (Legend of Good Women, Compleynt of Pity)

Manuscripts and Early Printed Books in North American Collections

The institutions are arranged alphabetically by city

The University of Texas at Austin has digitizations at the Harry Ransom Center, including of the Cardigan Chaucer (HRC 143).

HRC 46 (fragments of the Canterbury Tales)

HRC 143 (Canterbury Tales)

The Houghton Library at Harvard University in Cambridge has a complete digitisation of one Chaucerian manuscript. Houghton Eng. 920 (Treatise on the Astrolabe)
The Beinecke Library at Yale University in New Haven has complete digitizations of several Chaucer manuscripts and early books. Most of the early book digitizations are older, from black and white negatives; to the right I have listed only the newer material.

Takamiya 9 (Treatise on the Astrolabe)

Takamiya 22 (Four of the Canterbury Tales)

Takamiya 24 (Canterbury Tales)

Takamiya 32 (Canterbury Tales and other Middle English texts)

Osborn fpa5 (selections from the 1532 printing of the Canterbury Tales)

Columbia University in New York City has some images from early printed editions of Chaucer in its Digital Collections. For manuscripts from its collection, see the entry for the Digital Scriptorium, above.

Richard Grafton's 1542 printing of the Workes of Chaucer

Adam Islip's 1602 printing of the Workes of Chaucer

The Rosenbach Library in Philadelphia has a complete digitization of a fragmentary Chaucer manuscripts. Rosenbach 1084/2 (fragmentary copy of Canterbury Tales)
The Huntington Library in San Marino, California has several manuscripts relevant to Chaucer digitized through its Huntington Digital Library.

San Marino, Huntington EL 26 C 9 (the Ellesmere Chaucer)

San Marino, Huntington HM 114 (includes Troilus and Criseyde)

San Marino, Huntington HM 140 (includes Truth, Anelida and Arcite)

San Marino, Huntington HM 144 (includes the Melibee from Canterbury Tales)

The Folger Shakespeare Library has several images from early printings of Chaucer online. Click here for a search results page that includes a few images each from several early printings of the Canterbury Tales and the Workes; some are annotated.

The Digital Scriptorium is a database of images from medieval manuscripts in the collections of libraries around the United States. There are selected folios from several Chaucer manuscripts available here.

London, BL Harley 7333, folio 37r

New York, Columbia Plimpton 253 (fragment of Canterbury Tales)

New York, Columbia Plimpton 254 (includes Treatise on the Astrolabe)

San Marino, Huntington HM 143 (a fragment of Troilus and Criseyde, in the flyleaves of a manuscript of Piers Plowman)

 

 
Our library subscribes to Early English Books Online, a database of "page images of virtually every work printed in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and British North America and works in English printed elsewhere from 1473–1700." There are many early editions of Chaucer’s works in EEBO: to the right I list only a few of the books you might search for. Note that these are old digitizations from black and white microfilm, so that quality is not good.

Richard Pynson’s editions of the Canterbury Tales, from 1492 and 1526

Wynkyn de Worde’s 1498 The boke of Chaucer named Caunterbury tales

William Thynne’s 1532 The Workes of Geffray Chaucer

John Stow’s 1561 The Workes of Geffrey Chaucer

Thomas Speght’s 1598 The works of our antient and lerned English poet, Geffrey Chaucer

 

 

Google Books has many older printings of Chaucer’s works, as well as many adaptations, some with illustrations. Some examples are listed to the right: the links should take you to the information pages for the books in question. From there you can click on the icon to read the full text, and you can also, in some cases, download free e-book versions. Note that sometimes there might be other/ earlier editions of the books, but Google Books does not always have all editions of a book.

Another good source for early printed books is the Internet Archive - these digitizations are sometimes of better quality than those in Google books, and you might prefer the interface. Try searching for Chaucer, or for some of the books listed to the right.

London, BL Harley 7334, folio 200v

John Dryden, Fables Ancient and Modern; Translated in Verse, from Homer, Ovid, Boccace, & Chaucer (1700); the first item is his Poem of Palamon and Arcite, from Chaucer

John Urry, ed., The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Compared with the Former Editions, and many valuable MSS. (1721)

Samuel Cobb, The Miller's Tale, from Chaucer (1725)

George Ogle, Gualtherus and Griselda: or, the Clerk of Oxford’s Tale. From Boccace, Petrarch, and Chaucer (1741)

A Complete Edition of the Poets of Great Britain. Volume the First. Containing Chaucer, Surrey, Wyatt, & Sackville (1793)

Edward Hovel Thurlow, Arcita and Palamon: After The Excellent Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer (1822)

Charles Cowden Clarke, Tales from Chaucer, In Prose. Designed Chiefly for the Use of Young Persons (1833); includes illustrations

Charles Cowden Clarke, The Riches of Chaucer, in which his impurities have been expunged; his spelling modernised; his rhythm accentuated; and his obsolete terms carefully explained (1837; this is an 1870 printing of the second edition)

The Poems of Geoffrey Chaucer, modernized (1841); modernizations by various hands

John Saunders, Canterbury Tales, from Chaucer (1845); mix of translation and original, with some illustrations

Harris Nicolas, ed., The Poetical Works of Geoffrey Chaucer: Canterbury Tales (1866); the very attractive “Aldine” edition

Mary Eliza Joy Haweis, Chaucer for Children (1882 edition); includes illustrations. Our Library has many of this writer’s papers in its Archives, as well as copies of many of her books in Rare Books and Special Collections

Mary Eliza Joy Haweis, Chaucer for Schools (1881)

Frances Storr and Hawes Turner, Canterbury Chimes, or, Chaucer Tales Retold for Children (1889 edition)

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