The Ellesmere Manuscript is the most complete, authentic version of the Canterbury Tales and the most famous literary treasure in the Huntington Library's collections. The manuscript's 464 text pages are embellished with floriated borders, illuminated initials and other decorations, and twenty-three illustrations of the pilgrim-storytellers. In 1995, the Huntington Library and the Yushodo Co., Ltd., of Japan produced a color facsimile of this beautiful manuscript. The transparencies that were the basis of the landmark color facsimile were then used to make a full-size, monochromatic facsimile, an edition of special usefulness for those involved in textual and other studies where color is not of primary significance. The Huntington's purpose in producing the monochromatic facsimile is to make available an edition that is more readily affordable to students, scholars, and libraries.
Elegantly printed by the Stinehour Press of Lunenberg, Vermont, the facsimile conveys the trim, texture, and decoration of the original manuscript pages. It also features a color frontispiece, the page that begins the Knight's Tale. The facsimile can be a useful teaching tool in courses on Chaucer and the history of the book as well as a cornerstone in every library (private or public) supporting the study of literature in English.
Martin Stevens is Distinguished Professor in the Graduate School of the City University of New York.
Daniel Woodward is a senior research associate at the Huntington Library.
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