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After M.R. James, the next concerted attempt to produce descriptions of the University Library’s manuscripts was undertaken by Harold Pink, between 1948 and 1970, in many instances revising those produced by James twenty years earlier.  He worked initially on manuscripts in the Additionals classmark sequence, under the guidance of Roger Mynors, who himself contributed a number of descriptions, predominantly of manuscripts containing classical and renaissance texts.  Pink later worked on producing descriptions of manuscripts within the Two-Letter classmark sequence.  Both sets of unpublished descriptions have been accessioned into the University Archives as UA ULIB 7/3/75 (for further details, see the subject guide Unpublished descriptions of western medieval manuscripts at Cambridge University Library).

In contrast to James’s handwriting, Pink’s almost calligraphic style is a model of legibility and no transcriptions are needed to make sense of them.  Pink’s descriptions remained in the Department of Manuscripts after his retirement and, for a period, were made available to readers in the Manuscripts Reading Room.  In total, according to reports submitted just prior to his retirement, he had produced descriptions of some 344 manuscripts in the two-letter classmark sequence and 220 in the Additionals, with Roger Mynors contributing a further 95 in the latter sequence – amounting to 659 descriptions in total, approximately a third of the Library’s collection of western medieval manuscripts.  

A complete list of manuscript classmarks for which Pink and Mynors compiled descriptions is available to download.

(The totals given here are slightly different those quoted above: one description has gone missing, and several others were submitted for use in G.R.C. Davis's survey of medieval cartularies and are not to be found in the boxes). 

In most respects, Pink’s and Mynors’ work on the Additional manuscripts has been superseded by that of Jayne Ringrose, for which see:

  • Jayne Ringrose, Summary catalogue of the Additional medieval manuscripts in Cambridge University Library acquired before 1940 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2009).

Nevertheless, the earlier work may still be of use to scholarship, in certain specific respects.  For instance, collation formulae were included by Pink and Mynors, and in Jayne Ringrose’s preliminary, ‘full’ descriptions, but were ultimately omitted from the summary catalogue (for further details, see the subject guide Additional western medieval manuscripts at Cambridge University Library [forthcoming]).

At some stage, photocopies were made of the entire stock of handwritten descriptions produced by Pink and Mynors.  These have now been scanned and are available for download as pdf files from Apollo:

Researchers are welcome to reference these in their work, on the proviso that the person responsible is duly credited.  The following is the recommended citation:

  • UA ULIB 7/3/75: H.L. Pink, unpublished description of Cambridge, University Library, MS [classmark], c. 1948-70


  • UA ULIB 7/3/75: R.A.B. Mynors, unpublished description of Cambridge, University Library, MS [classmark], c. 1948-53

While the original drafts remain available for consultation in the Manuscripts Reading Room (see the Unpublished descriptions subject guide for further information), owing to their fragility we ask that as much use as possible is made of the scans beforehand. 


Dr James Freeman

Medieval Manuscripts Specialist