Holly James-Maddocks: Postdoctoral Fellow (2014-15)

Holly James-Maddocks completed her Ph.D – ‘Collaborative Manuscript Production: Illuminators and their Scribes in Fifteenth-Century London’ – at the University of York in 2013. For this she constructed more than 25 ‘limner profiles’ for the period 1430–1500; identifying regularly collaborating illuminators and scribes. It challenged the widespread application of an ‘ad hoc’ theory of book production for this period. As part of this discussion of trade organisation she was able to localise small groups of illuminators and to examine, by community, the trends for specialisation in certain texts and the differing solutions to the problem of supplying demand. As the SRS Postdoctoral Fellow for 2014–15, she will use the incunabula collections of London and Cambridge libraries to pursue this related project:

‘Medieval’ Illuminators in ‘Early Modern’ Books: The Transitional Book Producers of England, c.1455–1500

She will investigate the extent to which the account of early printed books in England should be an account of the illuminators who decorated these books, currently known only from their work in manuscripts. From the arrival of the first copies of Gutenberg’s Bible after 1455 to the products of the English printing presses after 1476, the presence of border-work in the English style indicates that some illuminators certainly diversified their income through ornamentation of both media. She will explore the identity of these individuals, the continuity in their craft and organisation before and after printing, and the transformations printing made to the manuscript culture that gave it shape. The aims will be 1) to attribute the illumination in English incunables and in imported incunables (undecorated at the point of arrival) to illuminators known from their work in manuscripts; 2) determine if there is a correlation between different geographical locations and trade categories of illuminators (guild/ foreign/ peripatetic) and their decoration of English and/or imported incunables; and 3) assess how continuities and changes in production practice relate to modern narratives of epochal change, including notions of the emergence of modernity. This project will form the ‘coda’ to a larger study which localises illuminators, and the texts they decorated, to different urban centres in England.


Three new Study Fellowships were also awarded:

  • Elizabeth Norton (KCL), Cadaver Tombs in Elizabethan England (£400)
  • Gillian Jack (St Andrews), Converted Prostitutes in Renaissance Florence (£500)
  • Christine Knaack (York), Idea of commonwealth to 1553 (£385)