Uncommon readers? The Paston family and the textual cultures of fifteenth-century East Anglia

McDonald, Elizabeth Grace (2018) Uncommon readers? The Paston family and the textual cultures of fifteenth-century East Anglia. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This study brings together the extant evidence surrounding the literary and manuscript culture of the Paston family. By placing in dialogue bills, inventories letters, and manuscripts this thesis will map the circulation of texts and manuscripts within the networks of people associated with this prominent medieval gentry family and establish in what ways the Pastons were typical or a-typical in their selection and acquisition of texts and manuscript. The project considers John Paston II’s commissioning of manuscripts and his collaboration with the scribe, William Ebesham, to compile and curate London, British Library, MS Lansdowne 285 (a manuscript John Paston II called his “boke of knyghthode”). The thesis then moves to explore some features of John Paston II’s wider library, looking at how it displays an engagement with a local hub of textual production, to which Paston had strong social connections, before turning to consider Paston as a reader of more widely circulating and popular works (such as those by Chaucer and Lydgate). In the final section of the thesis I consider the evidence for other members of the Paston family engaging with textual culture. Here I explore the ways in which both John Paston II and his sister, Anne Paston, are simultaneously quite typical in their owning and reading of works by John Lydgate and idiosyncratic in the types of text they had and how they were put to a form of cultural use. Finally, I look at the ways the texts of these manuscripts appear to have pervaded the writing of certain members of the Paston family. Through these lines of enquiry this project establishes the Pastons within an East Anglian textual culture but, through this collection of evidences, assesses the nature of that culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: James Tweddle
Date Deposited: 13 Sep 2019 12:07
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2019 12:07
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/72197
DOI:

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