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Writing fame: epitaph transcriptions in renaissance Chaucer editions and the construction of Chaucer's poetic reputation.

While examining two copies of Stow's 1561 Chaucer edition (1) at the Garrett Library Collection of the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, I discovered that each of them contained a manuscript transcription of the verses on Chaucer's tomb, the marble structure Nicholas Brigham paid to erect at Westminster in 1556. Though one transcription is far more complete than the other, both appear to have been written in early-modern hands and both are located in places suggesting that their writers considered the epitaphs the "termini" of Chaucer's works. In the first one, a single quatrain from the epitaph is traced in now-faint brownish ink with red capitals on the verso of folio 378, the colophon leaf, just below its sarcophagus-like printer's ornament. (2) The other, copied in black ink, stands just below the printer's title announcing "Thus endeth the workes of Geffray Chaucer" and before the beginning of Lydgate's works (fol. 355v). (3)

The occurrence of the same kind of annotation in two different hands in two copies of the same Chaucer edition seemed astonishing and suggestive. In 1999, Joseph Dane and Alexandra Gillespie reported finding two more tomb-verse transcriptions at the Huntington Library and at the Harry Ransom Center. (4) Dane's Huntington discovery was a complete version of the tomb verses on the title page of a 1550 reprint of the Thynne edition, located be neath another sarcophagus-like printer's ornament. Gillespie's Ransom Center discovery in a copy of the 1561 Stow Chaucer has a similarly complete version on the colophon leaf below the printer's device, exactly where I found the first copy in the Garrett collection. Because the texts of all four inscriptions differ from each other and from surviving printed transcriptions, they do not seem to have been copied from the same source or to be the work of even modestly skilled scribes. (5)

Nor are these four the only annotations of their type in early Chaucer editions. A few months after finding the Garrett Library transcriptions, I found another in a 1532 Thynne edition at the Folger Shakespeare Library. That annotation had already been reported the previous year by Alison Wiggins, who also found two additional epitaphs inscribed in other Folger copies of the 1532 and 1561 editions. (6) Based on the Wiggins survey of fifty-two Renaissance copies of Chaucer's collected works in England and America and on copies examined by Dane, by Gillespie, and by me, these seven epitaph transcriptions appear to be the only kind of extended annotation that occurs so frequently.

If the manuscript epitaphs have been found in an eighth of these fifty-six Renaissance Chaucers, it seems likely that we would find more now that we know what we are looking for. This article advances a hypothetical explanation for the social behaviors which may have produced these annotations and reexamines the publishing history of Chaucer's collected works in light of that hypothesis. This leads to new potential explanations for the destruction of the carved verses on the tomb itself and to another possible connection between the tomb and the collected works of Edmund Spenser, whose interest in associating himself with Chaucer is well established. I also request readers' assistance in seeking further examples of the tomb-verse transcriptions in Chaucer editions published between 1532 and 1598.

In brief, I believe these annotations may represent early-modern English readers' participation in the construction of Chaucer's poetic fame by means of behaviors that resemble the social practices of cult worship of the saints. Those behaviors included pilgrimage, profound meditation upon relics of the dead, taking away representative artifacts from ceremonial sites, especially tombs, and study of the saints' words and deeds, both those authorized by the Church and apocrypha circulated in collections such as Jacobus de Voraigne's Legenda aurea. (7) By the eighteenth century, all four of those cult-like behaviors had become a commonly accepted part of English secular literary culture, with the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey as its focal point.

The transmission of the tomb-verse-annotation custom to later owners of early Chaucer editions appears to have passed through an important stage in which Chaucer's "Englishness" and his status as an originator of high English literature were consolidated, finding expression in three important print events: the front matter of Thomas Speght's late-seventeenth-century Chaucer editions (1598, 1602, 1687), the engraving of the tomb in Elias Ashmole's 1650-to-1651 alchemical anthology, and the reproduction of a similar tomb engraving on the frontispiece of Edmund Spenser's Collected Works (1679). (8) These editions represent two important groups of specialist readers in the late seventeenth century who seem to have played a role in steering the quasi-religious social practices of a generation or two earlier toward their completely secular form. The secular antiquarians and "hermetic philosophers," early students of the medieval past, helped preserve the text of the verses even as Chaucer's physical tomb apparently began to crumble in a mysterious process we may finally be able to explain. Continued popular dialogue about Chaucer's tomb and editions of his collected works also seems to have caught the attention of editors, printers, and booksellers, because they added the verses and images of the tomb to later Chaucer editions.

The tomb verses themselves, which are reproduced at the end of this article, differ from typical English funerary inscriptions of this era which have been studied by Nigel Saul in that they do not ask for intercessory prayers for the deceased. (9) They do identify the poet by name and date of death, as would be traditional, but their primary concern is Chaucer's fame, his status as "thrice-greatest English poet." They also take pains to identify the tomb's sponsor, Brigham, and the year of its construction, as if memorializing the tomb itself. The verses seem intended to remind onlookers of what Saul calls "the deceased's place in the social pecking-order," a kind of biographical inscription he finds increasingly common in tombs constructed in the 1500s. (10) Unlike those epitaphs that celebrate a knight's most famous battles, a squire's ancestry, or a married couple's tally of years lived faithfully together, Chaucer's epitaph concentrates his entire identity into his fame as an English poet. (11) In addition, the plane-relief, full-length portrait of Chaucer seems an unusual departure from tomb iconography after 1538. (12) The inscriptions and Chaucer's graven image would be ideally designed, however, to help visitors associate Chaucer's poetry with the tomb's spectacular presence, and they may help to explain the use made of those verses by readers and printers.

The earliest hand in which the tomb verses are inscribed appears to be Dane's Huntington discovery in the 1550 reprint of Thynne. (13) Both Garrett Library copies of the Stow 1561 edition that I examined appear to be in a late-sixteenth-century or early-seventeenth-century secretary hand. Gillespie's 1561 Stow discovery in the Ransom Center is described as a "mixed secretary italic" hand associated with other annotations from "[Matthew] Parker's circle," including Stow himself. (14) Wiggins's Folger discovery in a 1550 Thynne reprint is "written in an Elizabethan secretary hand by one Edward Muckelston," and her 1561 Stow discovery in the same collection "was apparently added by William Sandbrook around 1635." (15) Perhaps the most astonishing evidence of the tomb-verse tradition's survival is the annotation of Wiggins's Folger discovery in a 1532 Thynne edition, "apparently added during the eighteenth century by William Latton, a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford" by transcription from one of two printed sources. (16) By this time, the significance of both Chaucer's works and his tomb had been translated into something far different from what they were two centuries earlier, but the same reader behaviors were being elicited by them.

So far, the epitaph annotations in Chaucer's collected works from 1532 to 1561 have been studied as evidence of reader response to the text (Wiggins) and of the writers' choice of copy text from the tomb itself or from print editions by Camden and Speght (Dane and Gillespie). (17) Wiggins goes so far as to suggest that they represent "a persistent tradition of transcribing, circulating, and re-copying these lines," and traces the provenance of the three copies she discovered to households in Cheshire, Shropshire, and Lincolnshire. (18) She does not speculate upon what might have motivated that tradition, however, nor its possible influence on later print editions of the works and its apparent persistence for centuries. These annotations may be just a small sample of a more widespread pattern of interactions among readers, editors, and printers during the period when Chaucer manuscripts were being replaced by print editions. Early-modern vernacular English printers, with their significant "sunk costs" and geographically limited customer base, had to listen closely to what readers said they wanted in order to remain profitable. These manuscript annotations may have helped astute printers to make wise marketing decisions about what a proper Chaucer edition should contain. (19)

Even the earliest tomb inscriptions certainly should not be read as evidence that the English people actually began to worship Chaucer as a supernatural being. The readers who wrote the tomb inscriptions into their copies of Chaucer may well have been responding to a politically interesting vagueness affecting cultural expressions of profound respect and admiration that we also see asserted in praise of Chaucer's language as an original foundation of Englishness. (20) Christopher Cannon describes the myth-making process by which poets and critics from Lydgate to the current era have claimed that Chaucer and Chaucer's works "purified" or even "originated" English as we know it. (21) These claims of Chaucer's linguistic and national originality may also have encouraged readers' visits to his tomb and their reverent annotation of his text with its words.

Elizabethan readers' interaction with their Chaucer editions and the tomb verses may also shed light upon English governments' persistent struggles to control their subjects' religious practices. Alexandra Walsham notes that Elizabethan clergy "were dealing with a populace which had been baptized Catholic" and which had a "nostalgia for the ritual protection which had been supplied by the pre-Reformation Church." (22) Jesuit missionaries to England invoked the superior "thaumaturgic" powers of the Old Religion's saints as evidence of its superiority over the leaner liturgy of the upstart schismatics. Nevertheless, Reformation critiques of these practices appear to have produced significant cultural resistance to the saints' worship. The Roman Church's "crisis of canonization" between 1523 and 1588 resulted in no new saints being made during the period as the Church was formulating its response to attacks on the cult of the saints as "superstition." This encompasses the period in which the first editions of Chaucer's collected works were printed and almost precisely brackets Brigham's construction of the tomb in 1556. The poet's tomb and writings thus become available to English readers at a time when ancient, popular religious practices involving pilgrimage, relics, and study of saints' words suddenly had no acceptable public outlet.

Chaucer's poetic influence and his early-modern fame have also drawn critical attention from literary scholars, who attend closely to the part played by increased English linguistic nationalism in the adornment of Chaucer's tomb and praise of his works. Edwin Benjamin points out that Chaucer himself was the first poet in English to write specifically about poets' posthumous reputations in The House of Fame, in which the pillars adorning the temple to the poem's fickle goddess bear the images of the writers Josephus, Statius, Homer, Vergil, Ovid, Lucan, and Claudian. (23) As early as 1993, Seth Lerer argues that Chaucer's first tomb poem, composed by Stephano Surigone and reprinted by Caxton in the 1478 Boethius, was evidence that the printer appropriated the poet's tomb, texts, and authority in a way that already identified Chaucer as a humanist "laureate," a titular father of his language's literature and object of readers' veneration. (24)

We may be able to read in the diversity of modern views of the Renaissance reception of Chaucer some sense of the poet's capacity to appeal to both Protestant and Roman Catholic readers in that era. In 1995, for instance, Derek Pearsall analyzes the circumstances of Brigham's erection of the new tomb to investigate whether the merchant was appropriating Chaucer's fame for the Counter-Reformation. (25) In 1998, John Watkins argues that Thynne's 1532 edition specifically allied itself with Henry VIII's political ideology to create a "Protestant Chaucer," following the lead of John Foxe's declaration that the poet was "a right Wicleuian." (26) Nevertheless, Alexandra Gillespie and Greg Walker argue that the same edition was not Protestant but rather patriotic. (27)

Amid such a tug-of-war between the English and Roman Churches, both trying to construct a "Chaucer" to suit their causes, Protestant and Catholic English readers may have turned to Chaucer to bridge a difficult cultural gap, seeking some common ground upon which to base their "Englishness." (28) His most popular work was inextricably connected with both the practice of religious pilgrimage to the shrine of an English saint and satire upon religious corruption and the abuse of clerical privileges. If recusant Catholics copied out the Latin verses, they may have been interested in Chaucer as "one of us," the poet of pilgrimage and of the Parson's sermon on penance. Protestant annotators might share nostalgia for the inscription language, associated as it was with the Old Religion's comforting liturgy and with learned authority. The editions' juxtaposition of Chaucer's authentic anticlerical satires with the apocryphal "Plowman's Tale," first added to the Works in 1542, seven years after its solo publication, also allowed Protestant readers to claim Chaucer as an ally in their battle against Rome.

Perhaps around the time of John Stow's last reprinting of Thynne's edition in 1561, Stow and other members of the antiquarian scholarly movement, along with students of alchemical lore, entered the social system that brought readers to copy the tomb verses. For these researchers, the addition of the verses to a print edition would encourage respect for the poet as a founding figure in English history and a scholar of arcane lore. As secular devotees to Chaucer's tomb and works, John Stow and Elias Ashmole performed important services to those who still may have approached the tomb with atavistic religious behaviors in mind. They also enabled printers to publish the inscriptions' text and underwrote production of Robert Vaughan's first engraving of the tomb.

In this way, the cultural reception of Chaucer and his works differs from that of any other medieval poet. The pattern of readers' annotations reveals a concern for the poet's tomb and fame that seems actively to link their interests with the material survival and completeness of the poet's works. (29) Following the growth of readers' and editors' interest in Chaucer's collected works, popular attention to other authors' Westminster tombs in the following two centuries became increasingly commonplace, and tomb tourism at Poet's Corner began to take on its current cultural significance. (30) In a curious inversion of the modern literary anthology, abbey tourist guides gathered together images of the authors' tombs, together with their inscribed memorial texts, so that visitors could serially direct their attention to the postmortem remains of the masters of the English canon.

Readers' annotation practices in older editions may have become known to printers and would have strongly implied what kinds of new content would sell new editions. In fact, we can observe the tomb verses' migration from readers' manuscripts to the type set for later editions. (31) The content and location of the annotations suggest what early-modern readers believed to be a "complete" Chaucer edition and what production and ownership of such a book meant to the poet's growing fame as a kind of ancestral figure for the English language and "Englishness."

As early as the preface to Caxton's second edition of Canterbury Tales, printers represented Chaucer's reputation and his works as contested ground. Alexandra Gillespie points out specific kinds of printed annotations that emerged when the earliest Chaucer editions were read amid post-Reformation government censorship of Catholic content. (32) She also speculates that later editions may have been influenced when public Catholic religious practices returned during Mary's reign. Thomas Prendergast observes, however, that Stow's 1561 edition, printed only three years after Mary's death, ignores Brigham's tomb and prints only the Surigone-Caxton verses. (33) Prendergast suspects Stow was responding cautiously to the new government, but it seems equally likely that Stow gave readers what they had asked for in the past.

The four manuscript tomb verses so far discovered in copies of Stow's edition may bear witness to increased public interest in the abbey, which may have redirected Stow's own research. In his 1598 Survey of London, Stow reports extensively on Brigham's monument and reproduces its inscriptions. Of all of the 1561 Chaucers, Gillespie's Ransom Center copy is the most interesting, because it had been annotated by Stow himself and later by Matthew Parker, a member of whose circle provided the tomb-verse annotation. (34) From Stow's notes, the epitaph seems to have made its way into Speght's Chaucer edition of the same year in which Stow's Survey was published. (35) By that point, the Brigham inscriptions had become a standard element of Chaucer's collected works, much like the Chaucer portrait and the "hard word" glossary, which Speght also introduced. John Speed's engraving of the author's portrait for the frontispiece of the 1598 edition already shows the poet standing, somewhat incongruously, upon a tomb identified as that of the poet's son, Thomas, and Thomas's wife, Matilda. (36) This image might be said to begin the visual mingling in print of the poetic and mortuary aspects of the author.

Elias Ashmole's Theatrum chemicum Britannicum (published from 1651 to 1652) played the next crucial role in establishing Chaucer's tomb as a subject of secular admiration when he published Robert Vaughan's engraving of the tomb with the main verses clearly legible beside Chaucer's portrait. Ashmole's "Prolegomena" explicitly articulates the "tomb = text" metaphor when describing his readers' interaction with the works he reprinted. Ashmole not only calls the authors' texts their "Monuments," but also treats the text-monuments as the metaphorical source of the alchemical treasures his text purports to purvey:
   Wherefore you that love to converse with the Dead, or consult
   with their Monuments, draw near: perhaps you may find
   more benefit in them, then the Living; There you may meet
   with the Genii of our Hermetique Philosophers, learne the
   Language in which they woo'd and courted Dame Nature,
   and enjoy them more freely, and at Greater Command, (to
   satisfy your Doubts) then when they were in the Flesh, For,
   they have Written more then they would Speake; and left
   their Lines so Rich, as if they had dissolved Gold in their Inke,
   and clad their Words with the Soveraign Moysture. (sig. [B4])

Since the days of G. L. Kittredge and S. Foster Damon, the Renaissance view of Chaucer as an alchemical student has been well known, though the number of those scholars who actually believed the poet was a practicing adept remains in debate. (37) Ashmole's notes specifically assert that he reprints the "Canon's Yeoman's Prologue and Tale" "to let the World see what a notorious Cheating there has beene ever used, under pretence of this true (though Injur'd) Science," but also "to shew that Chaucer himselfe was a Master therein." (38) Then he draws the antiquaries and previous editors into his proofs, naming Speght, and the antiquaries Bale and Leland as his guarantors of Chaucer's life of study among the "Friers Carmelites of Lynne" to become "Universally learned." (39)

Ashmole gives no specific reason the tomb engraving appears at the foot of the last page of the Theatrum chemicum's reprinting of Hermes Bird, facing the beginning of the Canon's Yeoman's prologue, but he does draw attention to the tomb itself, noting that "The Picture of Chaucer is now somwhat decay'd, but the Graver has recovered it after a Principall left to posterity by his worthy Schollar Tho. Occleve." (40) There he quotes the Regiment of Princes verses from MS BL Harley 4866 which specifically defend the making of Chaucer's image by comparing it with those of the saints: "The ymages bat in be chirche been, / Maken folk benke on god & on his seyntes, / Whan be ymages bei be-holden & seen." This gesture helps to move the textual and tomb representations of Chaucer further along the path to secular or metaphorical sainthood.

During the following two centuries, the tomb underwent a period of curious celebrity in English culture. In 1721, John Urry's edition of Chaucer's works finally included the tomb engraving with the verses on its title page, as well as reproducing the text in its entirety in the preface, completing the transformation of readers' handcrafted annotations to the mise-en-page of mass-produced artifacts. As printers and editors adopted readers' analogous association, "fame = tomb and tomb = text," the tomb contained and editions memorialized the poet's bodily and textual remains as complete and somehow sacred constructions whose secular residue was that elusive but powerful phantom, "fame." In fact, the actual tomb's social or ethical power seems to have been considered potent enough to oversee and guarantee oaths sworn to secure loans. (41) Like the tomb's image and inscriptions, the text of Chaucer's works could also manifest the poet's absent presence and the poet's fame by a process similar to that by which saints' relics operated. Just as the Church had declared since the eighth century that "relics had the power of reproducing themselves," so the press could reproduce potentially infinite copies of Chaucer's works. (42) Translations of the tomb inscriptions to print editions accomplish the same ends for Chaucer's text as the ceremonial translation of the saint's remains to the site of viewers' veneration, in this instance, a Latin memorial imposed upon a collected body of Middle English poetry.

Even as the tomb poems influenced the content of Chaucer's printed works, copying the epitaphs may have altered the tomb. Copying the text from someone else's annotation or a new print edition would be the easiest way to obtain the text, but some annotators, like so many Canterbury pilgrims, may have carried their editions to Westminster to copy the epitaphs on the spot, perhaps helping to wear away the marble inscriptions while tracing the stone letters with their hands. Speght, writing his edition's preface only forty-six years after the tomb's construction, notes that the "verses written about the ledge" of the monument ("Si rogites quis eram") were "clean worne out." This would be peculiarly rapid erosion of a marble inscription that was protected from rain and other natural forces by its location within the abbey. (43) In fact, the damage may be explained by visitors' tactile devotional practices authorized for sacred pilgrims by the Roman Church.

Alexandra Walsham cites instances in which the Church sanctioned worship of "secondary" or "associative" relics, and between 1615 and 1640 printed books were credited with performing miraculous cures in their authors' names. (44) The Christian worship of "brandea," including "touch relics," dates to the earliest days of the Church, and in England, worship of saints' relics, including physical contact with their tombs and reliquaries, was especially active until the late 1530s. (45) Even today, secular visitors to public monuments continue to practice unconsciously the ancient rituals by touching specific portions of public statues. At the F.D.R Memorial in Washington, D.C., for instance, the brightness of the president's forefinger and knee, and the shiny ears and nose of Fala, Roosevelt's Scottish terrier, testify to the secularized traces of religious ritual in our interaction with modern monuments. (46) Secular and increasingly nationalistic attention to relics derived from poets, composers, and philosophers resulted in the hideous disinterment and plundering of remains thought to be John Milton's in 1790 and in the popular veneration of skulls said to belong to Joseph Haydn (until 1954), Emanuel Swedenborg (to 1958), and Friedrich von Schiller (to 1965). (47)

Readers used to the "hands-off" curatorial instructions of modern libraries and museums might find outrageous the suggestion that generations of visitors to Westminster Abbey had been handling Chaucer's tomb. Constance Classen points out, however, that caretakers of early museums and collections often encouraged visitors to touch their artifacts, including objects in the Tower of London and the abbey. Although the coronation chairs of the Chapel of St. Edward the Confessor were forbidden to visitors, and the German tourist Zacharias Conrad von Uffenbach was forced to refrain from scraping a souvenir from the Stone of Scone, he was allowed to handle a famous sword to judge its weight and reports numerous tactile details of artifacts he handled on his tour of English historical sites. (48) Samuel Pepys records that when visiting the abbey on his birthday, he was invited to kiss the mouth of the mummified body of Henry V's queen, Katherine, and did so. (49)

Westminster Abbey's sixteenth- and seventeenth-century visitors to Chaucer's tomb inscriptions may have been influenced more than those of later generations by the saints cults' emphasis on physical contact with objects that had absorbed what has been called "the holy radioactivity" of the saint. (50) In the 1620s, the Church officially authorized worshippers of the proto-saint Bishop Frances de Sales to "carry away fragments of stone scraped from his tomb." (51) The physical location of the first verses said to have vanished from Chaucer's tomb, those "about the ledge," may have rendered them more vulnerable to deliberate removal.

Even innocent tracing, however, might have been sufficient to erode the rest of the letters, given the material from which the tomb may have been constructed. (52) If we can trust surviving descriptions, the tomb was carved from "Petworth Marble," a stone that geologists call "large 'Paludina' marble," after the fossil shells embedded in its calcite matrix. (53) Widely used since Roman times for interior monuments, including those at Canterbury Cathedral, Petworth marble is "easily weathered by acid rain," which dissolves the matrix and allows the shells to fall out. (54) One source of acid-bearing liquids in the abbey could have been the human sweat deposited by visitors' hands tracing inscriptions as they copied them out. The chemistries of sweat and acidic rainwater are similar. Ordinary, preindustrial rainwater could reach an acidic pH of 5.0 to 5.6 (7 being neutral), which is strong enough to erode marble, and sweat from the palm of the hand may have a pH between 4.9 and 6.4. (55) In exterior locations subject to centuries of rain, the marble's calcite (CaC[O.sub.3]) interacts with carbonic acid ([H.sub.2]C[O.sub.3]) created when C[O.sub.2] in the atmosphere dissolves in rainwater. (56) Human hands effectively deposit a similar "acid rain" directly upon the marble they touch. As more of the calcite matrix gave way, the inscriptions would have become more difficult to read and the need to hand-trace them would increase.

The erosion of the tomb by those copying its verses may have occurred quite quickly, which may suggest that additional sources of accelerant may have been available in the abbey's atmosphere. Two years before Speght's editorial comment on the tomb verses' dilapidation, Edmund Spenser's 1596 homage to Chaucer in Book IV, canto ii, of The Faerie Queene may already have been referring to their erosion in his famous praise of the poet whose fame he sought to emulate:
   But wicked Time that all good thoughts doth waste,
   And workes of noblest wits to nought out weare,
   That famous moniment hath quite defaste,
   And robd the world of threasure endlesse deare,
   The which mote haue enriched all vs heare.
   O cursed Eld the cankerworme of writs,
   How may these rimes, so rude as doth appeare,
   Hope to endure, sith workes of heauenly wits
   Are quite deuourd, and brought to nought by little
   bits? (stanza 33)

Although these verses function perfectly well as Spenser's literary allusion to Chaucer's own comments on the impermanence of all reputations and the peculiar vulnerability of literature to meaning-loss by linguistic change (in The House of Fame [ll. 1144-1147] and Anelida and Arcite [10-14]), the images could also have functioned as an insider's mournful jest about the state of the actual tomb's engravings in the decade in which Spenser wrote. (57) Damage to the inscriptions appears to have continued unabated over the next two centuries until nearly all the verses were illegible. (58)

Spenser's careerist identification of his work with Chaucer's may also have played yet another role in the growth of modern tomb tourism when aristocratic patrons paid to bury Spenser near his poetic "father," with a similarly inscribed memorial. An 1818 account of the deterioration of Chaucer's tomb notes that Spenser's nearby tomb had also become "decayed" before being replaced in 1778. (59) Depending upon the materials from which the original tomb was constructed, it is possible that Spenser's ambition had fatal consequences for his own monument, even as his works memorialized the decay of Chaucer's. (60) Printers of Spenser's works also appear to have originated the inclusion of the tomb engraving with the author's oeuvre. The first folio of Spenser's Collected Works, printed in 1679 by Henry Hills for Jonathan Edwin, uses his Westminster Abbey tomb for the frontispiece. The success of this edition in establishing Spenser's poetic fame may in turn have influenced the title-page layout devised for Urry's 1721 Chaucer edition.

Little work has been done to date on the practice of representing poets' tombs rather than their portraits on title pages and frontispieces, but the 1679 Spenser page layout suggests a direct relationship between the tomb and the collected works that may owe a debt to the earlier practices of Chaucer's readers and printers. More importantly, further inspection of surviving copies of early-modern Chaucer editions may reveal additional instances of tomb inscriptions that might provide ownership evidence to help determine whether these annotation practices were linked to identifiable persons with common geographical or social ties. (61) The evidence, in manuscript and print, suggests a complex and evolving set of relationships among printers, readers, poets, the tombs, their makers, and their keepers. The same social forces that wore away the tombs' marble letters may also have set them forever in cold type and black ink.

Goucher College


Joseph Dane's and Alexandra Gillespie's transcription of the monument's original verses:
   Qui fuit Anglorum vates. Ter maximus olim
   Galfridus Chaucer. conditur hoc tumulo
   Annum si queras domini si tempora mortis
   ecce nota subsunt. que tibi cuncta notant. 25 octobris anno
   domini 1400
   Chaucer occubuit sed corpore, cetera magnis
   post cineres virtus vincere sola facit. ICB

   recquies erumnarum mors
   N. Brigham hos fecit musarum nomine sumptus. 1556

   [The "verses about the ledge"]
   Si rogites quis eram forsan te fama docebit
   quod si fama negat mundi quia gloria transit
   Hec monumentie lege.

Garrett LibraryStow Chaucer, 1561, shelfmark PO1850 1561 QUARTO (EST 5075, the John Work Garrett copy) (62)
   Qui fuit Anglor<um> vates ter maximus, olim:
   Galfridus Chaucer, conditur hoc Tumulo
   Ann<um>, si queras domini: si tempora, Mortis:
   ecce: nota, subsunt: que tibi cuncta, notant. 25 octobris anno
   um>mar<um> requies, Mors.
   N: B[ri?]gam: hos fecit [?musarum sumptus]

Garrett Library Stow Chaucer, 1561, shelf mark PO 1850 1561a QUARTO (EST 5076, the Tudor and Stuart Club copy) (63)
   The wordes writtin a bout Chaucers
   tombe ftone in Weft<minster>
   Si rogites quis eram, forian te fama docebit
   quod fi fama negat, mundi quia gloria tranfit
   hec monumenta lege

[begin strikethrough] Qui fuit Anglorum [end strikethrough] Chaucers epitaphe [written over cancelled first line] written in West<minster> upon his tombe Qui fuit Anglon vates ter maximus olim Galfridis Chaucer conditur hoc tumulo An<n>um fi queras d<omi>ni si tempora mortis ecce nota iubiunt, qui tibi cuncta notant 25 octob<e>r a<n>o D<omi>ni 1400

AErrumar<um>requies mors N: Brigham hos fecit musfar<um> <nomine> sumptus 1556 } wordis[?] also writtin upon chaucers stone


I wish to thank Earle Havens, Johns Hopkins University curator of rare books, and his assistant, Amy Kimball, for their unflagging assistance, encouragement, and advice regarding this research. Steven Galbraith, curator of rare books and manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library, also generously gave me access to materials from the Folger collection and directed me to Alison Wiggins's study. A previous version of this article, delivered at an Early Book Society session at the 44th Medieval Institute International Congress, benefited from comments and questions by several persons, especially Derek Pearsall. Finally, two anonymous reviewers for the Journal of the Early Book Society offered many valuable suggestions and corrections, for which I am extremely grateful.


(1.) The most complete inscription is located on folio 355v of The woorkes of Geoffrey Chaucer: newlie printed, with diuers addicions, whiche were neuer in print before: with the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Ihon Lidgate, monke of Berie: as in the table more plainly doeth appere. (STC 5076), Sheridan Library shelf mark PO 1850 1561a QUARTO. The shorter version is located at the foot of the colophon page verso (378v) of The workes / of Geffrey Chaucer; newly printed with diuers addicions, whiche were neuer in print before; with the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Ihon Lidgate, monke of Berie: as in the table more plainly doeth appere, (STC 5075), Sheridan Library shelf mark PO1850 1561 QUARTO. Features which distinguish the copy of EST 5075 from EST 5076 are found on the general title page ("workes" vs. "woorkes"), and the 5075 copy's woodcut illustrations before the pilgrim descriptions in the General Prologue front matter (which 5076 lacks). The title pages match Anne Hudson's and Joseph Dane's descriptions of the "king in counsel" engraving for STC 5075 and the armorial engraving for STC 5076, but the title page of the STC 5075 copy was no longer truly integral with the binding. Anne Hudson, John Stow (1525?-1605)," in Editing Chaucer: The Great Tradition, ed. Paul G. Ruggiers (Norman, OK: Pilgrim, 1984), 57; Joseph Dane, "In Search of Stow's Chaucer," in John Stow (1525-1605) and the Making of the English Past: Studies in Early Modern Culture and the History of the Book, edited by Ian Gadd and Alexandra Gillespie (London: British Library, 2004), 154. The STC 5075 title page leaf was sewn into the binding upon a vertical repair at the gutter that extends from top to bottom. The remaining leaf appears to be of the same level of browning and wear as the adjacent leaves, but no further evidence of its relationship to this copy can be given. Folio 355, upon which the inscription is found, is integral to the gathering in which it is sewn, as well as could be observed. The title page of STC 5076 is integral to its gathering, as is folio 378, upon which its inscription is found.

(2.) For my transcription and Joseph Dane's reconstruction of the verses he discovered, see the Appendix. Digital color images of the Sheridan Library copies can be viewed at "Writing Fame: Manuscript Chaucer Epitaphs in Renaissance Editions of Chaucer's Collected Works," http://faculty.goucher. edu/eng330/Kzoo%202010/kalamazoo_2010.htm.

(3.) That manuscript epitaph also stands beside the printer's reproduction of the earlier Surigone-Caxton memorial verses, possibly indicating the annotator's intention to "correct" or update the older verses.

(4.) Joseph Dane and Alexandra Gillespie, "Back at Chaucer's Tomb: Inscriptions in Two Early Copies of Chaucer's Workes," Studies in Bibliography 52 (1999): 89-96.

(5.) The first Garret Library copy annotator's attempt to simulate medieval manuscript rubrication completely misunderstands the function of red letters, using them not to indicate beginnings of verses, actions performed in the Mass, or responsories but rather for irregular capitalization and punctuation marks, for example, the lowercase "d" of "domini." The second copy's annotator, apparently working in haste and without planning the mise-enpage, overwrote the first line of the second set of verses with a description of their location before going on to transcribe them.

(6.) Alison Wiggins, "What Did Renaissance Readers Write in Their Printed Copies of Chaucer?," The Library 9.1 (2008): 3-36.

(7.) For a broad survey of these practices throughout Europe, see Wilfrid Bonser, "The Cult of Relics in the Middle Ages," Folklore 73.4 (1962): 234-256. A description of English cult practices in this period is given in Eamon Duffy, The Stripping of the Altars: Traditional Religion in England, 1400-1580 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992).

(8.) Speght's editions are STC 5077, 5080, the 1687 edition being considered by the STC a reprint of 5080. Spenser's 1679 collected works edition appears to have no STC number. Ashmole, Elias. Theatrum chemicum Britannicum: Containing Severall Poeticall Pieces of our Famous English Philosophers, Who Have Written the Hermetique Mysteries in Their Owne Ancient Languge. London: J. Grismond for Nath. Brooke, 1652. Rpt. Kila, MT: Kessinger, 1991.

(9.) Nigel Saul, English Church Monuments in the Middle Ages: History and Representation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), 343-352.

(10.) Ibid., 359, 357-359.

(11.) Ibid., 357, 359, 361.

(12.) Henry VIII's Injunctions of 1536 and 1538 "ordered the removal of images attracting pilgrimages or offerings." See Nicholas Orme, "Church and Chapel in Medieval England," Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 6th ser., 6 (1996): 75-102, 100.

(13.) Dane and Gillespie report that this appears to be "a nearly contemporary secretary hand"; Joseph Dane and Alexandra Gillespie, "Back at Chaucer's Tomb: Inscriptions in Two Early Copies of Chaucer's Workes," Studies in Bibliography 52 (1999): 89-96, 89.

(14.) Ibid., 95.

(15.) Alison Wiggins, "What Did Renaissance Readers Write in Their Printed Copies of Chaucer?" The Library 9.1 (2008): 3-36, 19.

(16.) Ibid.

(17.) Although Connell does not mention the manuscript tomb verses, he does note the later rapid multiplication of poets' tombs with verses memorializing their literary achievements, beginning with seventeenth-century monuments to Spenser (1620) and Cowley (1667) and leading to the eighteenth-century memorials to "both the recently deceased (such as Prior, Gay, Gray, Goldsmith, and Johnson), as well as retrospective monuments to Dryden (1720), Butler (1721), Jonson (c. 1723), Milton (1737), and Shakespeare (1740)"; Philip Connell, "Death and the Author: Westminster Abbey and the Meanings of the Literary Monument," Eighteenth-Century Studies 38.4 (2005): 557-585, 559.

(18.) Wiggins, "What Did Renaissance Readers Write," 20.

(19.) In this analysis of the early-modern printer's business sense, I follow the entrepreneurial view of the English book trade developed by A. S. G. Edwards, Martha Driver, and David Carlson, especially Carlson's "theory of the early English printing firm," as a corrective to the aristocratic-patronage model of early-modern publication. Carlson's study of job printing in Caxton's era strongly suggests how customer-oriented the printer's publishing decisions had already become because of the need to keep the presses busy. Competitive pressures in the following century would intensify printers' economic motives for publication. A. S. G. Edwards, "From Manuscript to Print: Wynkyn de Worde and the Printing of Contemporary Poetry," Gutenberg-Jahrbuch (1991): 1430-1438, and "Poet and Printer in Sixteenth Century England: Stephen Hawes and Wynkyn de Worde." Gutenberg-Jahrbuch (1980): 82-88. Martha Driver, "Ideas of Order: Wynkyn de Worde and the Title Page," in Texts and Their Contexts: Papers from the Early Book Society, ed. Julia Boffey and V. J. Scattergood( Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1997): 87-146; The Image in Print: Book Illustration in Late Medieval England and Its Sources (London: British Library, 2004), and "Mapping Chaucer: John Speed and the Later Portraits." Chaucer Review 36.3 (2002): 228-249. David Carlson, "A Theory of the Early English Printing Firm: Jobbing, Book Publishing, and the Problem of Productive Capacity in Caxton's Work," in Caxton's Trace: Studies in the History of English Printing, ed. William Kuskin, (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2006): 35-68.

(20.) The cult-like aspect of the tomb-verse annotations, beginning in an era in which religious observances were under intense government scrutiny, remains difficult to understand and explain. The annotation practices might indicate some unconscious blurring of distinctions between behaviors appropriate only for sacred persons or objects and those accepted in use for very high-status secular persons or objects. Such ambiguity already existed in the language itself. In fifteenth- and sixteenth-century English, "to worship" also had secular usages which the O.E.D. defines as "To honor; to regard or treat with honor or respect" (ca. 1300-1578) and "To treat with signs of honor or respect; to salute, bow down to" (ca. 1380-1601). Readers of Sir Thomas Malory often encounter "worship" in descriptions of the correct reward for proper knightly conduct and even "disworship" as a synonym for opprobrium or abuse. All O.E.D. usage examples of "disworship" occur ca. 1400-1600.

(21.) Christopher Cannon, "The Myth of Origin and the Making of Chaucer's English," Speculum 71.3 (July 1996): 646-675.

(22.) Alexandra Walsham, "Miracles and the Counter-Reformation Mission to England," Historical Journal 46.4 (2003): 779-815, 813.

(23.) Edwin Benjamin, "Fame, Poetry, and the Order of History in the Literature of the English Renaissance," Studies in the Renaissance 6 (1959): 64-84, 66.

(24.) Seth Lerer, Chaucer and His Readers: Imagining the Author in Late-Medieval England (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993), 153-163.

(25.) Pearsall, Derek. "Chaucer's Tomb: The Politics of Reburial." Medium Aevum 64 (1995): 51-73.

(26.) John Watkins, "Wrastling for This World": Wyatt and the Tudor Canonization of Chaucer," in Refiguring Chaucer in the Renaissance, ed. Theresa M. Krier (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 1998), 23-25.

(27.) Alexandra Gillespie, Print Culture and the Medieval Author: Chaucer, Lydgate, and Their Books, 1473-1557 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006); Greg Walker, Writing under Tyranny: English Literature and the Henrican Reformation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 56 ff.

(28.) This was only the beginning of a process of secular cultural "worship" of Chaucer and other famous English poets. See Connell, "Death and the Author," esp. 557-558, for the complete eighteenth-century flowering of this patriotic, literary, and funerary association.

(29.) Gillespie, Print Culture, 229-230, observes that no such monument is certainly known to exist for John Lydgate, although a rubbing of words from his tombstone was reported in 1777, and the words may have been copied on the flyleaf of an unrelated manuscript in a fifteenth-century hand. The monk of Bury St. Edmunds may have attracted no such cult-like attention in Protestant England because he was too much like the saints of old.

(30.) Connell, "Death and the Author," 559-633, traces the eighteenth-century flowering of Westminster tomb tourism. This article contributes to his study by examining relations between early-modern print editions and their readers as they create the need for later guide books such as Jodocrus Crull, The Antiquities of St. Peters, or the Abbey Church of Westminster: Containing all the Inscriptions, Epitaphs, &c. upon the Tombs and Grave-Stones ... (London: by J. N. for John Morphew, 1711); and David Henry, An Historical Account of the Curiosities. Of London and Westminster (London: J. Newbery, 1753 [1754]), STC N25777.

(31.) As Dane and Gillespie, "Back at Chaucer's Tomb," point out, actual visits to the tomb would not have been necessary for the verses' reproduction. Discovery of the tomb verses printed in post-1598 editions would also have encouraged readers to remedy their omission in older editions by adding them. Thus reader responses to the tomb inscriptions may have influenced and been influenced by the printers' decisions in ways that may add to recent studies of early-modern printing practices by Edwards and Driver. Readers' influence on printers' book-design decisions might offer a new, more "collaborative" way to see the earlier breakthroughs in English publishing by Caxton, especially his prologues and epilogues describing interactions with his customers. This approach may also add to Edwards's study of editions of Stephen Hawes's poems, in which de Worde used custom woodcuts to identify and sell a contemporary poet's work, and Driver's work on de Worde's reinvention of the title page and John Speed's portrait of Chaucer; see Edwards, "Poet and Printer," 82-88; and Driver, "Ideas of Order," 87-146; Driver, The Image in Print; and Driver, "Mapping Chaucer: John Speed and the Later Portraits," 228-249.

(32.) Gillespie, Print Culture, 186-228.

(33.) Thomas A. Prendergast, Chaucer's Dead Body: From Corpse to Corpus (New York: Routledge, 2004), 53-54.

(34.) Dane and Gillespie, "Back at Chaucer's Tomb," 95.

(35.) As Derek Pearsall notes, the Chaucerian content of Speght's edition is "firmly within [the Thynne-Stow] tradition of reprint-with-augmentation," but its main contribution to the emerging idea of Chaucer's "Collected Works" is "the beginnings of an editorial apparatus"; Derek Pearsall, "Thomas Speght (ca. 1550-?)," in Editing Chaucer: The Great Tradition, ed. Paul G. Ruggiers (Norman, OK: Pilgrim, 1984), 71-92, 71. Thus the tomb verses and the portrait on Thomas Chaucer's tomb (see text accompanying note 33) are part of what Speght thought to be his most important addition to the received text.

(36.) Driver, "Mapping Chaucer," 228-249.

(37.) Pauline Aiken, "Vincent of Beauvais and Chaucer's Knowledge of Alchemy," Studies in Philology 41.3 (1944): 371-389, 387; Robert M. Schuler, "The Renaissance Chaucer as Alchemist," Viator 15 (1984): 305-333, 316-317.

(38.) Elias Ashmole, Theatrum chemicum Britannicum: Containing Severall Poeticall Pieces of our Famous English Philosophers, Who Have Written the Hermetique Mysteries in Their Owne Ancient Languge (London: J. Grismond for Nath. Brooke, 1652; rpt. Kila, MT: Kessinger, 1991), 467. An anonymous reviewer questioned an earlier draft's characterization of Ashmole's logic as "tortured" when he uses Chaucer's satire of alchemical frauds as evidence that Chaucer was an alchemist, "given that Chaucer claims arcane alchemical knowledge at the end of the CYT and does not seem to be joking." According to Larry D. Benson's notes in the Riverside Chaucer, the preponderance of critical opinion in the late twentieth century seems to assume that Chaucer thought, as some modern readers do, that alchemy was "absurd" or at least that he was "skeptical," "unconsciously prophetic in warning against an incipient dehumanizing technology," or "convinced of the evil of science." The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry Benson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), n. 948. As I reread those confident assertions, I am stricken with the suspicion that we have all fallen victim to our modern version of treating the adaptable Chaucer as "one of us." This time, he seems a twentieth-century scientist rather than a heretical practicing alchemist. Because we cannot know Chaucer's own beliefs but only that Ashmole treated him as a fellow practitioner, I would follow Benson to "the calmer views of [Derek] Brewer ... that Chaucer does not take an extreme position but has objections on the practical and religious grounds that the ignorant non-scientist should leave the science alone." The Riverside Chaucer, ed. Larry Benson (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1987), n. 948.

(39.) Ashmole, Theatrum chemicum Britannicum, 471.

(40.) Ibid., 472.

(41.) Prendergast, Chaucer's Dead Body, 1.

(42.) Bonser, "Cult of Relics," 236.

(43.) John Urry, in a footnote discussing the verses in his prefatory "Life of Geoffrey Chaucer," invents a completely unfounded explanation: "These Verses were probably written upon a Ledge of Brass, which may have been fixed upon the Marble Table, but is now taken away, and not upon the Stone itself, there being no footsteps of any writing upon the edge of it"; sig. [e2], n. t.

(44.) Walsham, "Miracles and the Counter-Reformation," 798, points out that "secondary relics" might include objects such as a handkerchief used to retrieve parts of a martyr's body from the ashes."

(45.) Andre Grabar, Martyrium, 3 vols. (Paris: College de France, 1944-1946), 343 ff.; Ernst Kitzinger, "The Cult of Images in the Age before Iconoclasm," Dunbarton Oaks Papers 8 (1954): 83-150, 115-119; John Crook, The Architectural Setting of the Cult of the Saints in the Early Christian West (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 6-39 and 210-241, esp. 238-239.

(46.) As a resident of the Washington, D.C., region, I have often visited the memorial and witnessed countless examples of this behavior. To see the results of visitors' highly directed attention to specific parts of this sculpture, visit and enter the search terms "FDR" and "Fala." For a single example, see

(47.) Allen Walker Read, "The Disinterment of Milton's Remains," PMLA 45.4 (1930): 1050-1068; Ronald Finucane, Miracles and Pilgrims: Popular Beliefs in Medieval England (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995), 29-30.

(48.) Constance Classen, "Museum Manners: The Sensory Life of the Early Museum," Journal of Social History 40.4 (2007): 895-914, 889.

(49.) Ibid., 902. Sculpture's aesthetic qualities, in particular, were thought by many seventeenth- and eighteenth-century visitors to be best understood by touch; ibid., 901-903. Classen draws our attention to the quasi-religious motivation for visitors' desire to touch artifacts with religious or nationalistic associations and notes that the shift to hands-off curation in England seems not to have taken place until the nineteenth century; ibid., 908.

(50.) Finucane, Miracles and Pilgrims, 26.

(51.) Walsham, "Miracles and the Counter-Reformation," 786.

(52.) Dane notes that the verses "about the ledge" were never mentioned in the earliest surviving versions of the transcription, and "later versions are dependent on Camden or the 1602 Speght," leading him to suspect that they were already on a previous, pre-Reformation monument whose stone was used to frame Chaucer's tomb; Joseph Dane, "Who Is Buried in Chaucer's Tomb? Prolegomena," Huntington Library Quarterly 57 (1994): 98-123, 114. This might help explain the rapidity of their erosion, but any obliteration of stone carving on a marble surface in a cathedral's protected interior requires some accelerant.

(53.) John Ashurst and Francis G. Dimes, Conservation of Building and Decorative Stone (London: Elsevier-Butterworth-Heinemann, 1990; rpt. 2004), 114. For the shells' resemblance to the modern "periwinkle," Petworth marble and the related Purbeck stone are sometimes colloquially called "winklestone."

(54.) Roger Birch, Sussex Stones: The Story of Horsham Stone and Sussex Marble (np: Roger Birch, 2006), 45 and 44. Floor slabs and exterior monuments were more likely to be constructed from Purbeck marble, also mined in Sussex from earlier Jurassic deposits which are more resistant to acidified liquids. See the Reverend F. H. Arnold, Petworth: A Sketch of Its History and Antiquities, with Notices of Archaeological Interest in Its Vicinity (Petworth, UK: A. J. Bryant, 1864), 80.

(55.) Mark J. Patterson, Stuart D. R Galloway, and Myra A. Nimmo, "Variations in Regional Sweat Composition in Normal Human Males," Experimental Physiology: Translation and Integration 85:6 (November 2000), 871.

(56.) Philip A. Baedecker and Michael Reddy, The Erosion of Carbonate Stone: Laboratory and Field Investigation,. USGS: Science for a Changing World, April 15, 2003, index.html (March 24, 2010).

(57.) Edmund Spenser, Spenser: The Faerie Queene, ed. A. C. Hamilton (New York: Longman, 1980), 440, n. Stanza 33 and Stanza 33, ll. 6-9.

(58.) Nineteenth-century descriptions suggest that all of the letters were almost completely obliterated before the 1850 campaign to restore the tomb. Prendergast, Chaucer's Dead Body, 87-96. In 1808, a letter to The Gentleman's Magazine by "G.W.L." laments that the tomb is in a "mutilated state" and declares that "the inscription is almost defaced, and the Monument has suffered much through neglect"; "G.W.L." [Letter to "Mr. Urban"], The Gentleman's Magazine, November 1808, 974-975. "G.W.L." may be self-consciously echoing the same provocative verb, "defaced," Spenser chose to conflate the wearing out of "workes" of "heavenly wits" with Time's destruction of a "famous moniment." More suggestive still is Edward Wedlake Brayley's 1818 judgment that of the plane-relief carvings on the monument, "the arms of Chaucer are along distinguishable, through the partial decomposition and crumbling state of the marble: the same arms may be traced in an oblong compartment at the back of the recess, where also, are some remains of the [Brigham epitaph] inscription, now almost obliterated from similar circumstances"; Edward Wedlake Brayley, The History and Antiquities of the Abbey Church of St. Peter, Westminster, including Notices and Biographical Memoirs of the Abbots and Deans of that Foundation, vol. 2 (London: J. P. Neale, 1818), 2:265; emphasis added. Brayley appears to describe his own continuation of the erosion process when, frustrated by others' damage to the inscriptions, he hand-traces the remaining fragments of text and armorial bearings. Of the Chaucer portrait, which Brayley says was "similar to that engraved in [Chaucer's] printed Works," presumably referring to Urry's title page, "not a vestige is left"; ibid., 2:265.

(59.) Brayley, History and Antiquities. The replica of the original was paid for by subscriptions and reproduced what is alleged to be Spenser's original epitaph:
   THE YEARE 1598. Restored by private subscription 1778.

After Spenser's burial in Westminster Abbey in 1599 at the expense of the Earl of Essex, in 1620 Ann Clifford, countess of Dorset, Pembroke, and Montgomery, paid to erect the monument near Chaucer's, engraved with the claim that "THE WORKS WHICH HE LEFT BEHINDE HIM" are the "WITNESSE" of the poet's "SPIRRIT."

(60.) One problem with this hypothesis arises from the fact that the tradition of sumptuous folio editions of Spenser's work never quite became established after the 1679 edition by Henry Hills for Jonathan Edwin. The multivolume octavo and other small-format editions by Jacob Tonson took the place of folio editions in 1715, 1742, 1750 and were followed by reprints by John Hughes in 1758 and J. Bell in 1777-1778, the year of the new tomb. Their frontispieces usually contain engravings of a "laureate" Spenser surrounded by female figures representing Faith, Justice, etc., rather than images of his tomb, but these circumstances are not those which appear to have motivated the annotators of Renaissance Chaucer folio editions. If I am correct that readers' motives for copying the tomb verses into their collected editions depended on the association of the single folio volume with the tomb, these multi-volume editions would offer less attractive sites upon which to copy the verses. Nevertheless, the inscriptions were described as having been obliterated by 1798, only a century after the folio collected works edition was published and 158 years after the inscriptions were carved, so once again, some accelerant seems to be required to explain the indoor weathering of the stone. See Francis R. Johnson, A Critical Bibliography of the Works of Edmund Spenser Printed before 1700 (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1933), 53-56, for a description of the first collected works.

(61.) Scholars with access to early-modern editions of Chaucer's collected works, especially those published between 1532 and 1598, are encouraged to share their evidence at the ChaucerEdMSS Wiki, "Chaucer Tomb Epitaph MSS in Early Modern Chaucer Editions: A Survey of Surviving Copies," at Summaries of evidence indicating either the absence or the presence of the tomb inscriptions will help us better determine how common or rare the seven known inscriptions are and what provenance evidence is available for each of those that survive.

(62.) In both transcriptions, my angle brackets expand scribal ligatures. The red ink remains more legible than the rest, which has faded to light brown. This annotation corresponds roughly with the text quoted by Dane and Gillespie, but skips from the quatrain about Chaucer to the line commemorating Brigham. The irregularly rubricated capitals and haphazard punctuation suggest the writer was not Latin literate but was familiar in passing with the general appearance of rubricated manuscripts.

(63.) The John Work Garrett copy inscription's curly brackets enclose both sides of the epitaph, itself, and a single curly bracket encloses the right side of Brigham's line. I have been unable to reproduce the reversed "N" of Brigham's line in digital text. The annotation's relative closeness to the Dane-Huntington Wilbraham text, its careful attention to exactly where verses were located, its cancelled line, and other signs of hasty composition, suggest this also may have been copied directly from the tomb at Westminster.





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--. The workes of Geffray Chaucer newly printed, wyth dyuers workes whiche were neuer in print before: as in the table more playnly dothe appere. Cum priuilegio. London: by [Nicholas Hill for] Rycharde Kele, [1550?] STC 5072 [Folger Shakespeare Library copy]

--. The workes of Geffrey Chaucer, newlie printed, with diuers addicions, whiche were neuer in print before; with the siege and destruccion of the worthy Citee of Thebes, compiled by Ihon Lidgate, Monk of Berie. As in the table more plainly doeth appere. 1561. London: John Stow, 1561. STC 5075 [Garrett Library Collection of the Sheridan Libraries, John Work Garrett copy].

--. The workes of Geffrey Chaucer, newlie printed, with diuers addicions, whiche were neuer in print before; with the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Ihon Lidgate, Monk of Berie. As in the table more plainly doeth appere. 1561. London: John Stow, 1561. STC 5076 [Garrett Library Collection of the Sheridan Libraries, Tudor and Stuart Club of Johns Hopkins University copy].

--. The WORKS of Geoffrey Chaucer: Compared with the Former Editions, and Many Valuable MSS. Out of which, Three Tales are added which were never before Printed / by John Urry, Student of Christ-Church, Oxon. Deceased; Together with a GLOSSARY By a Student of the same College. To the Whole is prefixed The Author's LIFE, newly written, and a PREFACE, giving an Account of this Edition. London: Bernard Lintot, 1721.

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--"Who Is Buried in Chaucer's Tomb? Prolegomena." Huntington Library Quarterly 57 (1994): 98-123.

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--. The Image in Print: Book Illustration in Late Medieval England and Its Sources. London: British Library, 2004.

--. "Mapping Chaucer: John Speed and the Later Portraits." Chaucer Review 36.3 (2002): 228-249.

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Author:Sanders, Arnold
Publication:The Journal of the Early Book Society for the Study of Manuscripts and Printing History
Article Type:Critical essay
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2011
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