Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century.
Paston Letters and Papers of the Fifteenth Century: Parts I and II. Norman Davis, editor. Oxford University Press for The Early English Text Society. Part I: 1xxxvii + 671 pages. [pounds sterling]50.00. ISBN 0-19-722421-0. Part II: xxxiii + 618 pages. [pounds sterling]50.00. ISBN 0-19-722422-9. When these two volumes first appeared in 1971 (Part I) and 1976 (Part II) their publication was greeted as a landmark: the most complete record of the most important collection of fifteenth-century letters spreading over three generations and set out in their original form with only some modern punctuation added. As Prof. Davis noted, their value lay not just in the field of social history but in that of linguistic development. He was also the first to point out which letters were autograph and which were written by a clerk. Part One contains letters from the Pastons; Part II, letters to them. He included certain legal papers such as wills or inventories to add to the volumes' value and wrote a substantial note on the manuscripts themselves, the handwriting and the family whilst also including a chronological table. Both parts also had plates showing the original manuscripts. For many years these invaluable volumes have been out of print and this new edition is both welcome and needed. O.U.P. and the E.E.T.S. are to be heartily congratulated for reissuing them and for correcting minor errors in typesetting and editing. The third part, which has the remaining texts and an index, will be published later this year to complete the set. (R.G.C.)