30-31 March 2021 | 2:30-5:30pm 
Dr Nigel Ramsay (UCL)
Maximum: 15 students

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Deciphering the handwriting of the past is just the first step in the process of presenting it for others to read. This course combines palaeography (the decipherment of Early Modern handwriting) with diplomatic (studying the form that past documents took) and the process of editorial intervention that enables us to present our transcription in a form that makes it accessible to others in a satisfactory scholarly way. The act of transcribing a document is always an act of editing: this day will aim to make that act a planned exercise that achieves the transformation in the best way possible. 

Courses fees are £100 (standard) and £75 (student).


Giles Dawson and Laetitia Kennedy-Skipton, Elizabethan Handwriting, 1500-1650: A Guide to the Reading of Documents and Manuscripts (London, 1968; and later reprints)

Paul Harvey, Editing Historical Records (London: British Library, [2001])

Michael Hunter, Editing Early Modern Texts: An Introduction to Principles and Practice (Basingstoke, 2009).

Nigel Ramsay (Honorary Senior Research Associate of the Department of History at UCL) is engaged on the English Monastic Archives project (directed by David d’Avray). He is now at work on the completing phase, writing a general introduction to monastic archives and their value for the researcher.

More generally, he is interested in legal history (his thesis having been on the late medieval legal profession in England and a current project being an edition of the medieval records of the court of the Constable and Marshal, often called the Court of Chivalry), the history of archives, medieval libraries (another current project is an edition of the medieval booklists of the English and Welsh cathedrals of canons), medieval art and—in a newly taken-up direction—medieval and later heraldry. His latest publication is an edited collection of essays entitled Heralds and Heraldry in Shakespeare’s England (Shaun Tyas, 2014), and in 2014 he curated an exhibition on heraldry in late Tudor and early Stuart England at the Folger Shakespeare Library, in Washington DC.