The Catalogue of English Literary Manuscripts 1450–1700 provides a complete catalogue of literary manuscripts by 237 British authors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It offers descriptions of more than 37,000 manuscript texts of poems, plays, discourses, translations, etc., as well as notebooks, annotated printed books, corrected proofs, promptbooks, letters, documents and other related manuscript materials, many hitherto unrecorded, found in several hundred public and private collections world-wide. It will provide a new and productive research tool not only for those interested in particular authors and works, but for anyone interested in the literary culture of the early modern period, in manuscript production and dissemination as a social phenomenon, and in the history of literacy and readership.
For each author who is covered, CELM offers an introduction and detailed manuscript listings. The introduction surveys the manuscript situation, discussing major collections and manuscripts, details of the author's handwriting, problems of attribution, and related but non-literary manuscripts. The manuscript listings show all known manuscripts, work by work, with an abbreviated publishing history and material on scribes, previous owners, completeness and variation from standard texts, and available facsimiles.
The same manuscript information is also available in a repository-by-repository manuscript-focused view, putting together all items that appear within a single manuscript: many of the works catalogued are poems that typically appear with many other poems by other hands in manuscript collections. This perspective on the manuscripts supports work on communities of manuscript creation and circulation, trends in the makeup of collections, and other topics in the history of the book.