A York Primer and its Alphabet

Nicola McDonald

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199229123
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 A York Primer and its Alphabet

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This article focuses on the primer or the Book of Hours, the most popular reading material for women in England during the medieval period. The primer was at once a first book of prayer and the layperson's primary devotional manual. An abbreviated form of the divine office designed specifically for lay use, the primer emerged in the mid-thirteenth century as a costly aide to the devotions of the elite. It contained the basic prayers that all children were supposed to learn written in easy-to-read letters and often accompanied by an alphabet, as well as a full programme of daily devotions, organized around the hours of the Virgin. The earliest surviving English book of hours, the de Brailes Hours.

Keywords: Book of Hours; reading material; women; England; medieval period; devotional manual; prayers; alphabet; de Brailes Hours

Article.  9718 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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