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.)