An examination of the later manuscripts from Reading Abbey suggested that the history of its book collections, from its foundation to their dispersal at the Dissolution, would provide interesting evidence of monastic intellectual life in the Middle Ages; and that to chart, where possible, the dispersal of the books and the stages by which they reached the large collections, in which so many of them are now housed, would make a contribution to the study of the fate of monastic manuscripts and of book collecting in general in the post-Dissolution period. The Oxford thesis from which this book is derived was originally conceived as a study of the twelfth-century manuscripts and an assessment of the evidence for the existence of a monastic scriptorium at Reading Abbey. The history of the abbey was written by the local antiquary and doctor, J. B. Hurry. J. R. Liddell wrote that ‘there are few English monastic libraries of which so much can be known as that of Reading Abbey’.
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