We think this week's post counts for manuscript Monday and maybe even miniature Monday too! This is a bifolium – a sheet folded to make two leaves, or four pages of text – from a very small prayer book in Dutch. It was produced in the Low Countries sometime during the fourteenth century. The dimensions of each page are 72 x 76 mm, or about 2.8 x 3 inches.
You can find more about this bifolium in the Digital Scriptorium. It's fragment number 128 in the Fragmenta Manuscripta Collection: a group of leaves, binding waste, and other manuscript fragments assembled by John Bagford in the seventeenth century.
No librarian is happy to see a broken book, but we're lucky to have eight leaves from this sixteenth-century book of hours. Two of the leaves in Special Collections were originally part of John Bagford's Fragmenta Manuscripta collection – meaning they were removed from the book by the late seventeenth century. Bagford's fragment collection passed to St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the eighteenth century. The collection was sold in 1861 to Sir Thomas Phillipps, then to Sir Sydney Cockerell in 1913. In 1957, the collection was bought by the bookseller William Salloch, and it came to the University of Missouri in 1968.
The remaining parts of the manuscript (it's not clear how much) were eventually broken around 1920. In the 1980s, Margaret Howell, then director of Special Collections, noticed a set of six leaves on the market, and she was able to reunite at least a portion of this beautiful book of hours.
All eight of the leaves are cropped in the same manner and show signs of damage from flooding in London in 1846. The manuscript was produced in the style of Geoffroy Tory, an influential type designer of the Renaissance. This humanistic script may look printed, but it's all written by hand. See more in the Digital Scriptorium: Fragmenta Manuscripta #212, #213, and the six additional pages.
For a great recent overview of the topic of book breaking and its implications for libraries, see This Just In: Breaking Bad by David Whitesell at the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.
How about a little brainteaser with your Monday manuscript? This is a chess problem from a fourteenth-century manuscript. It's Fragmenta Manuscripta #194. The entire Fragmenta Manuscripta collection is online at the Digital Scriptorium.
This semester, we're kicking off a new series. Every Monday, we'll share a page or two from the department's manuscript holdings – just enough to give you a glimpse into the collections.
First up: the oldest manuscript in the collections, a fragment of De orthographia by Bede from the 9th century (Fragmenta Manuscripta #002). Fragmenta Manuscripta is a collection of leaves, clippings, and binder's waste assembled by bookseller John Bagford in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century. It's fully digitized – find out more about it at Digital Scriptorium.
Stay tuned next Monday for another manuscript from the collections.
We're happy to announce that an exhibition of selected materials from the Lanford Wilson Collection, curated by our colleagues at the University Archives, is on view in the Ellis Library Colonnade.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson made a legacy gift of his papers to the University of Missouri in 2011. Wilson grew up in Springfield and Ozark, Missouri, and spent most of his life in New York. He began his career at Caffe Cino, a pioneering Off-Off Broadway theater run by Joe Cino that produced plays by many young, aspiring playwrights.
Wilson wrote plays for La MaMa Experimental Theater Club and the Circle Repertory Company, a project organized by Wilson and three of his associates from the Caffe Cino and La MaMa. Plays that premiered at the Circle Repertory Company included Talley's Folly, Serenading Louie, The Mound Builders, Fifth of July, and The Hot l Baltimore. Wilson's plays were critically acclaimed and won several awards and nominations. In 1980, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Talley's Folly. Wilson was elected to the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2001 and to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2004.
The Lanford Wilson Collection includes 53 linear feet of correspondence, manuscripts, notebooks, posters, photographs, and over 100 books. Researchers can access the finding aid online, and the collection is available for use in the Special Collections reading room.
The Lanford Wilson exhibition is presented in conjunction with a conference, "Angels in Performance: Documenting LGBTQ Lives in Theatre & Performance," hosted by the MU Department of Theatre, April 24-28. The conference will feature guest artist and award-winning playwright and screenwriter, Tony Kushner. The exhibition will be on view through the month of April.