The Wonder of Medieval Manuscripts: An Evening with Christopher de Hamel

Location: Macready Theatre, Rugby, CV22 5EJ
Starts: Tuesday 12 March 2024 7:30 pm
Ends: Tuesday 12 March 2024
Price: £8-10

About event

This is a talk about why medieval manuscripts matter. Coming face to face with an important illuminated manuscript in the original is like meeting a very famous person. We may all pretend that a well-known celebrity is no different from anyone else, and yet there is an undeniable thrill in actually meeting and talking to a person of world stature.


The idea is to invite the audience into intimate conversations with some of the most famous manuscripts in existence and to explore what they tell us about nearly a thousand years of medieval history - and sometimes about the modern world too. Christopher de Hamel traces the elaborate journeys which these exceptionally precious artefacts have made through time and space, shows us how they have been copied, who has owned them or lusted after them (and how we can tell), how they have been embroiled in politics and scholarly disputes, how they have been regarded as objects of supreme beauty and luxury and as symbols of national identity. He touches on religion, art, literature, music, science and the history of taste.


Part travel guide, part detective story, part conversation with the audience, de Hamel conveys the fascination and excitement of encountering some of the greatest works of art in our culture which, in the originals, are to most people completely inaccessible. At the end, we have a slightly different perspective on history and how we come by knowledge.

There will be a post-show Q&A at this event. 


Christopher de Hamel is the author of Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, winner of both the Wolfson History Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize, and Posthumous Papers of the Manuscripts Club, among many other works. Over the course of a long career at Sotheby’s, he catalogued thousands of medieval manuscripts. Christopher de Hamel is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and the former librarian of the Parker Library.

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