Literary Manuscripts: A Tolkien Trust Digitization Project

In 2021-22, the Bodleian Libraries are undertaking a project to digitize selections from its far-reaching literary manuscript collections. This project has been generously funded by The Tolkien Trust.

In keeping with Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s academic interests, the project has had a particular focus on literary manuscripts of the medieval and early modern period, including works from authors such as Chaucer, Hoccleve, and Boccaccio. Highlights include King Alfred’s Old English translation of Gregory the Great’s Pastoral Care, manuscript verses by the seventeenth-century poet James Shirley, and MS Tanner 346, an anthology of courtly poetry.

The manuscripts digitised as part of this project, however, do not solely concentrate on medieval and early modern Europe. Modern manuscripts selected include an autograph manuscript of E.F. Benson’s The Queen of Tilling [Mapp and Lucia], the manuscripts of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows, and notebooks of the poet Jenny Joseph, including a draft of her best-known poem ‘Warning’. Manuscripts have also been selected from a range of global traditions, from Japanese illuminated manuscripts of the seventeenth century to a fourteenth-century Arabic copy of the Maqāmāt by Ḥarīrī.