The trajectory of Derek Brewer's academic career does not invariably reflect trends of modern scholarship. Relatively few of his many publications are directly concerned with the topics of this chapter. But his activities in these areas of manuscript and textual study show that his sense of the potential for new forms of scholarly enquiry in medieval English studies was often remarkably prescient. By the time of his death, Middle English manuscript study and editing had come to enjoy positions of importance in which their historical and cultural significance were increasingly acknowledged. Brewer's own roles in these developments warrant some exploration, not least for what they suggest about the changing climate of Middle English scholarship in these areas over the course of his long careers as scholar, publisher and teacher.
Brewer's interest in manuscript study can be traced back to his uncompleted BLitt thesis, which he began at Oxford in 1948. Some of the research from this period was published in an early article that described Gloucester Cathedral, MS 22, a collection of sixty-six fifteenth-century sermons, some associated with Mirk's Festial, bound with a fragment of the Gesta Romanorum, in a different hand, all in Middle English. Brewer's article is perhaps less interesting for its substance than for some aspects of its method, particularly his consideration of the whole manuscript itself as a proper object of study.
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this book to your organisation's collection.