The Gilded Page

The Secret Lives of Medieval Manuscripts

ebook / ISBN-13: 9781541675094

USD: $18.99  /  CAD: $22.99

ON SALE: October 12th 2021

Genre: Nonfiction / History / Europe / Medieval / Medieval


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A breathtaking journey into the hidden history of medieval manuscripts, from the Lindisfarne Gospels to the ornate Psalter of Henry VIII 

Medieval manuscripts can tell us much about power and art, knowledge and beauty. Many have survived because of an author’s status—part of the reason we have so much of Chaucer’s writing, for example, is because he was a London-based government official first and a poet second. Other works by the less influential have narrowly avoided ruin, like the book of illiterate Margery Kempe, found in a country house closet, the cover nibbled on by mice. Scholar Mary Wellesley recounts the amazing origins of these remarkable manuscripts, surfacing the important roles played by women and ordinary people—the grinders, binders, and scribes—in their creation and survival.  

The Gilded Page is the story of the written word in the manuscript age. Rich and surprising, The Gilded Page shows how the most exquisite objects ever made by human hands came from unexpected places. 

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Reader Reviews


“Mary Wellesley is a born storyteller and The Gilded Page 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
“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, author of The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England
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