The Simeon Manuscript Project is made possible through collaboration between the University of Birmingham and the British Library to digitise, research, and increase access to this extraordinary compendium of Middle English literature.
The Simeon manuscript is one of the most exceptional books of English literature ever made. Measuring some 590 x 390 mm, and carefully copied and lavishly decorated around 1400 AD, it is an exceptional example of medieval book production. Containing songs, prayers, homilies, legends, and classic works of spiritual guidance, it is a massive compendium of literature for pious readers. Even more remarkable is that, unlike most books that survive from this period, it is written in English.
Held as a select volume at the British Library as Additional MS 22283 since it was purchased in 1858 from John Simeon, and relatively little investigated by scholars owing to its formidable size and the lack of a facsimile, the Simeon manuscript has many secrets to disclose about how it was made, who for, and why. Sharing a West Midlands scribe and many texts with the more famous Vernon manuscript, Simeon also has much to tell us about how books were made in later medieval England and about the scribes and audiences who used the scribe’s dialect of the West Midlands. The Simeon Manuscript Project team at the University of Birmingham are investigating these questions.