Scottish website sheds light on English language

Detail from the Auchinleck Manuscript

A remarkable manuscript that gives a unique insight into the language and literature of England in the 1330s has been made available on the internet by the National Library of Scotland.

The 'Auchinleck Manuscript' — named after its first known owner, Lord Auchinleck — is widely regarded as the most important collection of English literary texts written before Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400), who is considered England's first great poet. Donated to the Library's predecessor in 1744, it contains 44 Middle English texts and provides a rare snapshot of the kind of literature and language that Chaucer grew up with in London.

Access to the online facsimile of the entire manuscript will benefit those interested in history who are keen to see this rare document first hand, from schoolchildren to high-level researchers. Accompanied by a transcript and supported by a search facility, it offers a chance to study the historical development of the English language. Our new web feature is a collaborative venture with London University's Centre for Editing Lives and Letters at Queen Mary and Sheffield University.

For more, read our press release, or see the Auchinleck Manuscript at

6 July 2003

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