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The Lyell Lectures 2020

Professor Marc Smith, École nationale des chartes, Lyell Reader in Bibliography 2019-20
Writing models from manuscript to print: France, England and Europe, c. 1400-1800

First four lectures online; to book email, subject line LYELL 2020; bookings will be honoured within 24 hours of receipt as long as capacity allows.
29 September, 1, 6, and 8 October. All at 5 pm BST 

Tuesday, 29 September  Writing Models and the Formation of National Scripts

Thursday, 1 October Bibliography and the Life Cycles of Writing Books

Tuesday, 6 Oct  Renaissance Calligraphy from Pen to Press and back

Thursday, 8 Oct  The Golden Age of French Writing Masters?

All four lectures above will be available as video podcasts from 24 hours after the lecture date, at, search 'Lyell'.

March 2021, date TBC:  “L’Ecriture Anglaise dans sa Perfection”

From the later Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century, western handwriting was subjected to an unprecedented diversity of scripts and styles, characteristic of nations, languages, institutions, functional uses and the professional or social status of men and women. The calligraphic models for teaching such scripts were developed by professional scribes such as copyists, chancery clerks, secretaries and writing masters. A minority among them had their manuscripts translated into print and widely circulated, thus contributing to a European market of letter forms, shaped and reshaped by the changing balance of power and taste. After the prevalence of Italian models in the Renaissance, French writing books were an essential component of that market, until the English round hand (later known as ‘copperplate’) gradually became the common medium of business in the West. At the crossroads of bibliography and palaeography, the lectures will address a number of technical, commercial and cultural issues raised by the cataloguing and scrutiny of French writing books, hitherto the least charted territory in early modern calligraphy. 

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