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Sebastian Sobecki identifies autograph hand of poet John Gower

23 October 2015
John Gower shooting the world, a sphere of earth, air, and water (from a manuscript of his works ca. 1400)
John Gower shooting the world, a sphere of earth, air, and water (from a manuscript of his works ca. 1400)

Sebastian Sobecki, Professor of Medieval English Literature and Culture, has discovered the autograph hand of one of medieval England’s best-known poets: John Gower. His findings appear in the article ‘Ecce patet tensus: The Trentham Manuscript, In Praise of Peace, and John Gower’s Autograph Hand’ which is published in the latest issue of Speculum, the leading periodical for medieval studies.

In his article Sobecki reveals that the British Library’s MS Additional 59495, known as the Trentham manuscript, would have belonged to John Gower until the time of his death in 1408. The manuscript, usually dated to the first year of Henry IV's reign, exclusively contains Gower's poetry.

Sobecki’s discovery is based on modern research on disability and blind writers: “Gower was losing his eyesight at the time, and his identification of the failing hand of a poet gradually going blind is a first in this area.”

Last modified:13 June 2019 10.41 a.m.

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