Renaissance Calligraphy from Pen to Press and Back - The Lyell Lectures 2020

Lecture details

flourish horizontal


The Lyell Lectures 2020

Renaissance Calligraphy from Pen to Press and Back



The Lyell Lectures 2020 

Writing models from manuscript to print: France, England and Europe, c. 1400-1800

Lecture 3: Renaissance Calligraphy from Pen to Press and Back

​​​​​From the later Middle Ages to the early nineteenth century, western handwriting was subjected to an unprecedented diversity of scripts and styles, characteristic of nations, languages, institutions, functional uses and the professional or social status of men and women.

The calligraphic models for teaching such scripts were developed by professional scribes such as copyists, chancery clerks, secretaries and writing masters. A minority among them had their manuscripts translated into print and widely circulated, thus contributing to a European market of letter forms, shaped and reshaped by the changing balance of power and taste.

After the prevalence of Italian models in the Renaissance, French writing books were an essential component of that market, until the English round hand (later known as ‘copperplate’) gradually became the common medium of business in the West.

At the crossroads of bibliography and palaeography, the lectures will address a number of technical, commercial and cultural issues raised by the cataloguing and scrutiny of French writing books, hitherto the least charted territory in early modern calligraphy.


Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible.


No booking required. 


Professor Marc Smith, Professeur de Paléographie, The Ecole Nationale des Chartes, Lyell Reader in Bibliography 2020

Other events in The Lyell Lectures 2020


Lecture 4: The Golden Age of French Writing Masters?

  1 October 2020

Read more


Lecture 5: L’Ecriture Anglaise dans sa Perfection

  2 October 2020

Read more


Related Links

Contact us

Information desk

+44 (0)1865 277094


Other opportunities

flourish horizontal


Two people look at a print in front of an old printing press

Learning opportunities

We offer courses, workshops, lectures and special events that aim to inspire learners of all ages by making direct contact with our historic collections of manuscripts, maps, rare books and archives.

Read more

Tour of the Old Bodleian Library, Oxford

Visit our spaces

There are a range of historic spaces to visit across the Bodleian Libraries, from the historic Old Bodleian Library to the magnificent Georgian Radcliffe Camera and the modern Weston Library.

Read more

A woman watches a child draw

Events for families

The Bodleian Libraries hold regular events, workshops and community events that are open to all the family. Visit our events and exhibitions pages for more information.

Read more