New research grant award for MEMS’ Dr Ryan Perry

Many congratulations to Dr Ryan Perry (University of Kent) and to Dr Stephen Kelly (Queens University of Belfast) who have just been awarded £367,000 by the Leverhulme Trust for a project entitled, ‘Whittington’s Gift: Reconstructing the Lost Common Library of London’s Guildhall’.

The three-year project will employ two postdoctoral research associates, and include the input of two expert consultants, Emeritus Professors James Carley (York, Toronto) and Ralph Hanna (Keble College, Oxford).  Whittington’s Gift will aim to trace the parts of the now lost Guildhall collection of ‘theological works’ that the project team contend engendered an explosion in pastoral writing in fifteenth-century London.

Whittington’s Gift aims to demonstrate that London citizens created new programmes of religious education for both the City’s clergy and for literate lay communities that have hitherto gone largely unnoticed by scholarship.

Thanks to the legacy of Richard Whittington (d. 1423), perhaps London’s most storied mayor, an extraordinary resource for religious education emerged under the auspices of Whittington’s innovative executor, John Carpenter, common clerk of London’s Guildhall, who founded a new ‘Common library’ as part of the Guildhall’s complex of buildings. By tracking the transmission of texts that the applicants contend were sourced from the Guildhall Library, the project aims to radically complicate understanding of fifteenth-century devotio-literary culture in the capital and beyond.