About the Corpus of Middle English Prose and Verse

This collection of about 300 Middle English primary texts was assembled over more than two decades in order to provide a publicly accessible, cross-searchable sampling of Middle English from a widely diverse range of genres, times, and places. Selection was directed towards broad inclusiveness, neglecting neither major works nor minor, but has always been constrained by the need to keep the texts public, so that anyone could access them.

Beginning in the mid-90s with a few score texts obtained from the Oxford Text Archive, transcribed by the Library, or contributed by University of Michigan faculty, the collection enjoyed two spurts of growth. The first, funded by a generous grant from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, added about 75 texts (created in the year 2000, online in 2006). This body of material included some of the largest and most significant monuments of Middle English, including the early and late versions of the Wycliffite Bible, both translations of Higden's Polychronicon, Cursor Mundi, both versions of Guy of Warwick, the chronicles of Robert Mannyng and Robert of Gloucester, two versions of Mandeville's travels, Hoccleve's Regiment of Princes, the A, B, and C texts of Piers Plowman, the Pricke of Conscience, the Ormulum, and numerous saints' legends, including the Laud MS of the South English Legendary; also the complete Chaucer Society '6-text' edition of the Canterbury Tales.

The second growth spurt took place as part of a larger effort to update, revise, and correct the entire Compendium (Dictionary, Bibliography and Corpus) in 2016-2018. It added another 150 texts or so, filling in many gaps with small texts (recipes, medicine, Biblical apocrypha and legends such as the Gospel of Nicodemus and the Visio Pauli, etc.) as well as many larger works, including Stephen Scrope's translation of Christine de Pizan's Othea, John Hardyng's enormous Chronicle, Henry Lovelich's two long romances (the Merlin, and the Holy Grail), Pecock's Donet, the Shillingord letters, Arnold's Select works of Wyclif, Bokenham's Mappula Angliae, the Speculum Gy de Warewyke, The Sowdane of Babylone, The Romans of Partenay, and six single-manuscript transcripts of Chaucer's Troilus.

Both of these batches were produced by manual keying from public-domain editions, accompanied by inhouse proofreading and editing in order to ensure as high a degree of accuracy as possible. All of the texts have been marked up using basic TEI semantics (usually at roughly the TEIlite level), and all are available for bulk download in XML form. Though the collection already includes some notable works (as described) it remains open to further expansion as opportunity offers, whether through a new program of digitization, volunteer submissions, or arrangements with publishers. For further information, or to offer comments and corrections, contact the University of Michigan Library's Digital Content and Collections unit at mec-info@umich.edu.

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