HM 144 Closed Cover

The cover and binding of Huntington Manuscript 144. Courtesy of the Huntington Library's online Digital Scriptorium database.

From the outside, Huntington Manuscript (HM) 144 might be described as a “scruffy” 7.5 by 11 inch book. It’s weathered with age, showing many spots and variations in its light brown cover. The spine is made of dark leather with a faint floral pattern stamped into it, and in a few places, the leather has worn down.

So it’s old and fading, right? Maybe a little bit, but this manuscript was made to last, and its physical and material presence tells as much of a story as the words on its individual pages. Though textbooks and anthologies immortalize some of the poems and stories written in this manuscript, other aspects of HM 144 have not received much attention. This website is dedicated to a single piece of writing, added to the back of a blank page many years after the initial pieces were put together.

The “Plague Page,” as my peers and I refer to it, is a “recipe” written against the plague and added to the manuscript in a sixteenth-century secretary hand. And where do the dragons come in? We'll have to learn to read the scribal handwriting to find out.