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Hidden Hands charts the history of manuscripts in England, starting with the first, found in the grave of St .Cuthbert, which cannot have been written later than the end of the seventh century, through to the works of the Beowulf poet, Margery Kempe, Julian of Norwich, Malory, Wyclif, the Gawain poet, William Langland, Chaucer, the Ancrene Wisse, The Paston Letters and others right up to the invention of printing, forming a line of transmission which constitute a history of England and its literary culture.

Preoccupied with England’s part of a common European culture. Scribes, clerics, patrons and collectors are drawn with a vivid touch, while the significance of individual manuscripts is judiciously illuminated. It is insistent on the early role of women as authors and active, visible participants. It describes how manuscripts were prepared and discusses the many contributors to the creation of these venerable, beautiful and delicate objects, most of which perished through fire, water or wilful destruction.