This is an electronic version of “N. R. Ker (1908-1982),” Medieval Scholarship: Biographical Studies on the Formation of a Discipline, Vol. 2, Literature and Philology, ed. Helen Damico (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1998), pp. 425-437.

N. R. Ker (1908-1982)

Kevin Kiernan

Neil Ripley Ker, whose major legacy to medieval scholarship was a series of indispensable catalogs of manuscripts encompassing the most remote and inaccessible repositories of medieval and modern Britain, was born on 28 May 1908 in Brompton, part of the borough of Kensington, in west-central London. He was the only child of Lucy Winifred and Robert Macneil Ker, a second cousin of the medievalist W.P. Ker. Neil's mother educated her son at home until his tenth year, when he went on to attend preparatory schools at Reigate (1919-21), and then at Eton. There he began his distinguished career, examining the books in the library at Eton on Sunday afternoons and publishing at age fifteen his first catalog, a series of articles on 301 gravestones in the country churchyard in Upton-cum-Chalvey, Slough.

Ker entered Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1927, intending at his parents' urging to follow the curriculum in philosophy, politics, and economics, for a career in the Foreign Office. His path is hard to find during his undergraduate years. His love of the open air is reflected in the office he held in 1929 as president of the Oxford University Mountaineering Club, a fitting post for someone whose family owned homes in Scotland and Switzerland. Back at the university C.S. Lewis directed him to medieval studies, and he earned his baccalaureate with Second Class honors in English language and literature in 1931. C.L. Wrenn encouraged him as a postgraduate to write a thesis on an Anglo-Saxon literary topic, but Ker chose instead to follow the proclivities of another distinguished Oxford Anglo-Saxonist, Kenneth Sisam, who was at the time (1930-32) writing a series of articles on the Bodleian copy of Ælfric's Catholic Homilies in Bodley 340 and 342. Writing Sisam's eulogy for the British Academy in 1974, Ker acknowledged that Sisam's example of "foraging among manuscripts" had influenced his own career.

After completing his 1933 B.Litt. thesis on the manuscripts and palaeographical aspects of Ælfric's homilies, Ker stayed on in Oxford and [p. 425] began giving courses in palaeography in 1936. Still in his twenties, he had already established himself as an important publishing scholar, notably in a series of eight contributions to the Oxford-based journal Medium Ævum. One of these pieces was a penetrating review of the facsimile of The Exeter Book of Old English Poetry (1933), edited by the formidable team of R.W Chambers, Max Förster, and Robin Flower. Ker boldly pointed out some shortcomings in the editors' transcriptions with the help of an unpublished ultraviolet photograph Chambers himself had given Ker. One can foresee a focused career as a lecturer in palaeography in some of his more laudatory comments on the facsimile. "Hitherto the study of these poems has been limited by the inconvenience of a journey to Exeter," he says, as if many scholars other than Ker had ever made the trip (Ker [1933]: 224). He also laments that, before the publication of the facsimile, "most students have been compelled to rely entirely upon printed editions," noting that "editors, by introducing their own punctuation, inevitably bias the reader" (ibid.). Only a student of palaeography would well understand what he was talking about.

Ker himself apparently received mixed reviews as a lecturer in palaeography. "As a teacher, he was inspiring," according to his friend Christopher Cheney, "even though his formal lecturing tended to become soliloquies with slides, addressed to the screen" (Cheney [1983]: 87). Pamela Robinson, a former student and fellow palaeographer, similarly reveals that "he was perhaps not always the most lucid of lecturers, but his classes were invariably illuminating, particularly the series he gave entitled 'How to describe a medieval manuscript.' In this series," she adds, "he imparted the distillation of his own experience as a cataloguer and made one aware of the importance of recording not only the facts but of how by a well thought-out presentation of those facts one interpreted a medieval book to modern readers" (Robinson: 1). One can perhaps get some sense of his qualities as a lecturer in the essay "Cathedral Libraries" (1967), described by Ker's literary executor, Andrew Watson, as "a rare example of an informal Ker talk." Here, Watson observes, "some of his quiet, rather dry humour comes over" (Watson [1985): xi). Alert listeners might have chuckled quietly at his dry comparison of library benefactors with "anti-benefactors, people who alienated books carelessly or so neglected them that they perished in situ" (ibid., 293).

In 1938, after he had been teaching for a couple of years, Ker married his second cousin Jean Frances Findlay. The couple had four children, a son named Robert, after Neil's father, and three daughters, Christina, Helen, and Janet. Although Ker and his wife welcomed friends and visitors from nearby and abroad to their homes near Oxford and in Scotland, Ker was a private person with simple tastes, who tended to seclude himself with his family when [p. 426] not secluded in a library. Scholars from all over the world might easily intrude, however, by writing to him, for he kept up a voluminous correspondence, sometimes answering as many as twenty letters on a Sunday from his study. While his research and writing were always his most absorbing hobby, Ker also enjoyed walks with family and friends in the hills around his home. His death resulted from a fall while out picking berries with his wife, Jean, near their home in the Scottish highlands.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Ker was granted an exemption as a conscientious objector. He showed what must have been unpopular convictions at the time by advising other conscientious objectors how to present their cases before a tribunal. For his wartime service he was assigned to work as a porter at the Radcliffe Infirmary, within easy reach of all the Oxford college libraries and only a few hundred yards from the Bodleian Library. During the war years he published many important articles and reviews on palaeographical subjects. His article 'The Hague Manuscript of the Epistola Cuthberti de Obitu Bedae with Bede's Song" (1939) brought to light a crucial, assimilating stage of transmission. He also continued to display his photographic memory for scripts, decoration, and even for such things as rulings and patterns of wormholes, by using them to identify the provenance of membra disiecta, or dispersed manuscript leaves, in a second series of notes for British Museum Quarterly (1940). During this period he also published his seminal article "The Migration of Manuscripts from the English Medieval Libraries."

From the start Ker seemed to be intrigued by the scribes whose handwriting he described. He wrote many articles centering on them, beginning with his postgraduate essay in Medium Ævum, "The Scribes of the Trinity Homilies," and culminating in 1971 with "The Handwriting of Archbishop Wulfstan," his contribution to a festschrift for Dorothy Whitelock. In 1937, at the start of his career, he redated the famous tremulous hand of Worcester from the late twelfth to the second quarter of the thirteenth century, on the basis of an addition this scribe made to a thirteenth-century table of contents. He continued this trend of his research in the war years with his articles "Aldred the Scribe" and "William of Malmesbury's Handwriting." In the former piece he persuasively revived Humfrey Wanley's old and discarded argument that the person who wrote the Old English gloss to the Lindisfarne Gospels also wrote the gloss to the Durham Ritual. Ker lucidly explained that superficial differences in a glossator's script come about by the nature of the main text being glossed. In this case the magnificent Gospels demanded more care and elegance than the Ritual.

Before the war Ker joined Christopher Cheney, Richard Hunt, Roger Mynors, and J.R. Liddell in an ambitious project to catalog all surviving books [p. 427] from medieval libraries in Britain. The results were first kept on cards in the Bodleian Library. Ker tells us that the group "aimed at recording on the cards the actual words of inscriptions of ownership, some details of the evidence for provenance, if there is no inscription, medieval pressmarks, the dates and positions of inscriptions and pressmarks, names of individual owners and the survival of medieval binding" (Ker [1941], viii). Cheney, then history tutor at Wadham College, seems to have initiated the project, but Ker came to dominate it when the war started and the others were posted away from Oxford. When he published Medieval Libraries of Great Britain: A List of Surviving Books in 1941, his expertise was recognized by his appointment as university lecturer in palaeography.

Typical of all Ker's catalogs, Medieval Libraries is packed with erudition that each reader must learn to unlock with Ker's keys. "The description of each book and the evidence for its provenance are necessarily stated very briefly indeed," he warns his readers (ibid., viii). In each description, for example, Ker uses only an italic letter (b for binding or leaves used in binding; c for contents, obits, scribbles; e for ex libris; g for genitive case, most often used for the name of a donor; m for marginalia; s for script, and so on) to denote the type of evidence he depends on in establishing the provenance of a manuscript. His system, once understood, is efficient and easy to manage but requires preparation and therefore works against the occasional user. With this format, however, Ker was able to squeeze into one normal-sized book a comprehensive overview of some 4,200 medieval books from 500 or so medieval libraries of religious houses, cathedrals, and colleges.

His catalogs all spring from a desire to impose order on chaos. This one makes it possible for anyone following him into the morass of medieval books to recognize the mysterious markings on their bindings and flyleaves; to wade through seemingly impenetrable medieval booklists with their defunct reference letters, short titles, "secundo folio" opening words, and pressmarks; and to facilitate the use of variously mischarted or misleading modern catalogs. Ker in his first book reassembled for scholars of intellectual history many of the widely dispersed college and monastic libraries, revealing what books these institutions collected for their members to read and hear in medieval Britain. By reconstituting some of the larger collections Ker made it possible to recognize trends and traditions in the handwriting and illumination. As was his habit with all his grand projects, Ker continued to add to it over the years and published a much-enlarged second edition in 1964. The work continues to grow long after his death. In 1987 Andrew Watson published a Supplement to the Second Edition, which Ker had worked on intermittently since 1964, adding over 450 manuscripts and eighty printed books. [p. 428]

Ker's standing as a scholar was recognized as the war ended with his election to a fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1945. The next year he was appointed reader in palaeography at Oxford University, filling the post of another great palaeographer, E.A. Lowe. In 1949 Ker became a curator of the Bodleian Library, an honor befitting his unrivaled mastery of its medieval manuscripts. His growing reputation as an authority in manuscript studies was also acknowledged in 1952 and 1953 by his selection to inaugurate the Lyell Lectures in Bibliography at Oxford. He chose as his topic English Latin manuscripts in the century after the Norman Conquest.

Ker published his second book, Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts Used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings, in 1954. This remarkable undertaking in some ways epitomizes Ker's gifts as a scholar. A "pastedown" in a modern book is the heavy paper pasted to the inside covers to strengthen the binding. When the religious situation in post-Reformation England and the influx of new learning from Italy rendered many medieval texts expendable, some sixteenth-century binders, especially in Oxford and Cambridge, began using leaves of parchment from medieval manuscripts for pastedowns. Identifying some 2,200 Oxford bindings containing pastedowns, Ker was able to extrapolate from these once-isolated scraps of evidence an overarching understanding of the sometimes destructive transition from medieval to Renaissance libraries and to identify more than seventy binderies in Oxford alone. In the course of assembling all of the necessary evidence Ker made meticulous rubbings, reproduced in fourteen plates, of forty-four rolls, thirty-seven centerpieces, and seventy-one ornaments from the spines and covers of the bindings. He ended with two books in one, a list of manuscripts discarded from Renaissance libraries and a survey of a crucial century of Oxford bookbinding from about 1515 to 1620.

In 1955 Ker succeeded C.T. Onions as "Fellow Librarian" at Magdalen, his old college at Oxford. In the same year he was invited to deliver the Sandars Lectures at Cambridge, and he chose as his topic "Oxford College Libraries in the Sixteenth Century." His second lecture, covering the volatile years 1535-58, treats the subjects of book collection and what he might have thought of as "anticollection," the discarding of books for various reasons. As Ker puts it with characteristic understatement:

Something had to go to make room for new books, either old copies of the Fathers or the works of medieval theologians and canon lawyers condemned by authority. Sixteenth-century arguments for keeping patristic manuscripts, except perhaps "pietas," are not easy to think of when editions by a scholar like Erasmus were to be had [Ker (1957-61), 489]. [p. 429]

The bookbinders found themselves with loads of choice manuscripts containing expendable patristic texts. But in keeping with his new role as a librarian Ker also shows that, in the case of at least one college, "the sheer necessity of making room for new books on the desks may have been a more compelling reason for discarding old books" than the changes in religion (ibid.).

Soon after his great Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon was published in 1957, Ker was elected a fellow of the British Academy and won its Sir Israel Gollancz memorial prize for outstanding contributions to Anglo-Saxon studies. Sometimes called the "new Wanley," because it superseded the monumental eighteenth-century catalog of Humfrey Wanley, Ker's Catalogue inaugurated a new era in Anglo-Saxon studies. Reprinted in 1990 with a 1976 supplement, the Catalogue furnishes an exhaustive list of 421 manuscripts containing everything except for charters written in Old English before the turn of the thirteenth century. For each item Ker assigns a conservative palaeographical dating of the script, based on dated charters, and then gives a relatively comprehensive review of contents; a concise treatment of foliation, collation, ruling, decoration, and script; and notes on medieval and early-modern provenance.

The erudite introduction is not easy to absorb because Ker usually refers only to item numbers rather than to the memorable or recognizable names of texts or manuscripts. In discussing fragments that were apparently used in bindings, for instance, he says that "96, 97, 136, 322, 323 have been wrappers. 11, 101, 125, 127, 128, 243 have been pastedowns. 79 and 118 were used as strips in binding. 183, 282, 337 have disappeared: they are likely to have been binding fragments" (Ker [1957].lxii). It is easy enough to find the items in the Catalogue, and the rewards are well worth the search, but the process is demanding. No one using the book for the first time is likely to find out that the fragments Ker lists by item numbers come from such important texts as Wærferth's translation of Gregory's Dialogues, the Laws of Alfred and Ine, the West-Saxon Gospels, Orosius's History of the World, Waldere, the Hexateuch, Royal Genealogies, Ælfric's Homilies, Finnsburh, and Alfred's translation of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy. What we miss most in Ker's catalogs, in other words, are the introductory volumes he has drastically collapsed in his pithy commentary.

Ker was frequently asked to contribute introductory notes on palaeography and codicology to facsimiles and manuscript editions. Between 1954 and 1976 he wrote half a dozen commentaries for the Early English Text Society, including ones for facsimiles of The Owl and the Nightingale, the "Harley Lyrics" in B.L. Harley 2253. and the Winchester Malory. He also wrote "The [p. 430] Handwriting" section for the facsimile of The Paris Psalter for Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile and edited the facsimiles of three manuscripts of King Alfred's Translation of St. Gregory's Regula Pastoralis for the same series. Some of his short introductory notes are important. His "Note on the Document" for the facsimile of The Will of Æthelgifu for the Roxburghe Club, for instance, raises fundamental questions about the palaeographical dating of Old English manuscripts from the end of the tenth century to the middle of the eleventh, the period when most of the extant manuscripts were written.

The Lyell Lectures were published in 1960 as English Manuscripts in the Century After the Norman Conquest. To some extent they supply the kind of introduction one would benefit from in catalogs like Medieval Libraries of Great Britain. Ker begins by pointing out that "in order to know where manuscripts were written, we must learn what we can about the customs of scriptoria in such matters as ruling and correction; in order to know where they belonged in the Middle Ages we must be able to recognize the characteristic marks of later annotators, the various styles and hands of tables of contents, and the customs of different librarians in the writing of ex libris inscriptions and press-marks and in the chaining and labelling of manuscripts" (Ker [1960], 1-2). When the catalogs are difficult of access, it is invariably because Ker assumes a certain rudimentary knowledge only he can well supply. The lectures are filled with stores of learning and common sense reflections on them that obviously draw on big lists of manuscripts.

In 1968, in order to spend more time on his research and writing, Ker retired early at the age of sixty from the readership in palaeography at Oxford, at the same time resigning his fellowship and his duties as librarian at Magdalen College. He took no vacation from his work. He made a quick break with Oxford by accepting a visiting professorship at the University of Illinois, where he taught a graduate seminar in English and Latin palaeography for the fall term. He kept himself entertained among the rare books by discovering a book extensively annotated by the sixteenth-century "Saxonist," Laurence Nowell; describing the medieval manuscripts; identifying a vast group of books still in Renaissance leather bindings; and compiling a 337-page unpublished catalog, "Bindings of Early Books in the University of Illinois Library," which includes rubbings of all rolls, centerpieces, and ornaments mainly from Oxford and Cambridge bindings but also from other English and Continental ones. Among the descriptions of the manuscripts we may have an example of his dry, quiet humor in the frequent appearance of the $ sign to overstrike mistakes. An infallible mark of the British provenance of his typed letters, sometimes obscured by thick swabs of whiteout in the later ones, is his use of the @ sign for this purpose. [p. 431]

Ker accepted a visiting appointment at Yale University for the spring semester 1971. During this stay in the United States he was inducted as corresponding fellow in the Medieval Academy of America. Among the interesting vestiges of his connections with Yale is a tour de force in three letters dating from 1967 and now kept with Beinecke Osborn fa. 26 at Yale University. This Old English manuscript consists of two narrow strips of parchment from the same leaf containing parts of Ælfric's homily for Palm Sunday. Ker thought he might have purchased strips from the same binding for the Bodleian Library and first wrote to James Osborn, who had bought his two strips at Sotheby's in 1965, to try to confirm his suspicions. His second letter includes a long strip of manila envelope marked for sewing holes, bands, and kettle stitches, with Ker's instructions to Osborn on how to line up his fragments with the mock binding. The third letter begins with Ker telling Osborn, "I am very glad to hear that the holes can be made to fit, so that we can suppose both strips came from the missing front cover of the book now in the Bodleian."

As this episode suggests, Ker played an important role in book collection for the Bodleian Library. It was not a sinecure he accepted in 1949 when he was made a curator of the library, and his diligent labors on its behalf over the years are reflected in his appointment to the Standing Committee of the Bodleian Library in 1960. His intimate knowledge of private and out-of-the-way collections, and his absorption of sales catalogs, enabled him to purchase many important manuscripts for the Bodleian. As Bruce Barker-Benfield says in his eulogy of Ker for the Bodleian Library Record, "He was of constant help in searching out and recognizing potential new accessions, and he was endlessly generous with timely, unobtrusive financial support towards their purchase" (65). He also made many personal gifts of manuscripts to the Bodleian, including in 1975 his teaching collection of ten medieval manuscripts.

The primary reason for his early retirement was to give himself uninterrupted time to work on Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. The Standing Conference of National and University Libraries had asked Ker "to describe medieval manuscripts in collections hitherto uncatalogued or barely catalogued in print" (Ker [1969], v), excluding therefore the British Library, the national libraries of Scotland and Wales, the Bodleian Library, and Cambridge University Library. Given these enormous exceptions, Ker responded with rather more than either he or the Standing Committee anticipated. In 1969 he wrote in the preface to Volume 1, devoted to London libraries alone, that his plan was to work his way alphabetically from Aberdeen to York. "In beginning, in fact, with London," he assured his readers, "I have not abandoned the alphabet, but have done what lies nearest to hand. I hope that [p. 432] 'Aberdeen-Liverpool' and 'Maidstone-York' will fit into volumes of about the same size as the present volume" (ibid.). Any fastidious subscriber who planned to place London between them later was headed for disappointment. When Volume 2 appeared in 1977, Abbotsford-Keele, instead of Aberdeen­Liverpool, turned out to be twice as thick as the London volume.

As Ker's magnum opus began to appear, the magnitude of his total oeuvre was soon appreciated. He received his second honorary doctorate from the University of Leiden in 1972, his first coming from the University of Reading in 1964. A third doctorate was granted by Cambridge University in 1975. In the same year he was elected honorary fellow at Magdalen and the Bibliographical Society recognized him as a Gold Medalist for his outstanding achievement. In 1977, as Volume 2 was published, he was inducted as a fellow to the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften. The British crown even recognized his many contributions to palaeography by making him a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1979.

When he died on 23 August 1982 at the age of seventy-four, Ker left Volume 3, Lampeter-Oxford, in the proof stage and the typescript of Volume 4, Paisley-York, in various stages of revision. As he had written in the preface to Volume 1, his plan to proceed through the alphabet "is an aim which can be independent of my own capacity to achieve it from end to end" (ibid.). His literary executor, Andrew Watson, saw Volume 3 through the press in 1983, and Alan Piper of the University of Durham completed Volume 4 in 1991, subsequently published in 1992. The value of this project has taken on new significance with the publication of many of these collections in microfilm, making it possible for scholars without ready access to these scattered repositories to do basic research before traveling to them.

In a personal letter of 28 May 1991, Ker's birthday, Andrew Watson remarked that "it was striking that for about six months after his death people kept on talking about him, exchanging anecdotes and reminiscences, often affectionate and amused ones. Undoubtedly he was so much an individualist that he gave an impression of slight eccentricity...." As Pamela Robinson puts it: "Like all well-loved figures stories grew up about him. One such has him standing at a street corner discoursing learnedly of a manuscript while he absent-mindedly tried to brush away a speck of fluff, as he thought, from his pullover; instead, under the fascinated gaze of his listener, he began unravelling the knitting" (Robinson: 2). Others have slightly romanticized him, seeing him as a type of Johnny Appleseed of manuscripts, "travelling often with a tent" he never owned, or retiring to a "lochside cottage" that was a large modern house with five bedrooms. C. R. Cheney's witty characterization in the Ker festschrift rings true: "For decades one of the most familiar [p. 433] sights of Duke Humfrey's Library [in the Bodleian] has been this spare figure proceeding with quick step, all intent on the common pursuit, with a sharp eye that misses nothing, the very nose seeming to be on the scent for some recondite fact" (Cheney [1978], xiv). With his extraordinary powers of observation, investigation, and description of medieval books and libraries, and of their various destinies after the Middle Ages, Ker ended up leading the next generation of medievalists into the newly opened fields of English palaeography, codicology, lexicography, and cultural history.

Selected Bibliography



"Tombstone Inscriptions in the Churchyard of St. Lawrence's, Upton-cum-Chalvey, Slough." Notes and Queries 145 (1923): 426-27; 146 (1 924): 94-96; 147 (1924): 22-24.

"The Scribes of the Trinity Homilies." Medium Ævum I (1932): 1 38-40.

Review of The Exeter Book of Old English Poetry. Edited and with Introductory Chapters by R.W. Chambers, Max Förster, and Robin Flower. Medium Ævum 2 (1933): 224-31.

"The Date of the 'Tremulous' Worcester Hand." Leeds Studies in English 6 (1937): 28-29.

"Membra Disiecta." British Museum Quarterly 12 (1938): 130-35.

"The Hague Manuscript of the Epistola Cuthberti de Obitu Bedae with Bede's Song." Medium Ævum 8 (1939): 40-44 .

"Membra Disiecta, Second Series." British Museum Quarterly 14 (1940): 79-86.

Ed. Medieval Libraries of Great Britain:A List of Surviving Books. London: Royal Historical Society, 1941. 2nd ed., 1964. Supplement to the 2nd ed., edited by Andrew G. Watson, 1987.

"Aldred the Scribe." Essays and Studies 28 (1942): 7-12.

"The Migration of Manuscripts from the English Medieval Libraries." The Library. 4th ser., 23 (1942): 1-11.

"William of Malmesbury's Handwriting." English Historical Review 59 (1944): 371-76.

"Hemming's Cartulary: A Description of the Two Worcester Cartularies in Cotton Tiberius A. xiii." In Studies in Medieval History Presented to Frederick Maurice Powicke, edited by R.W. Hunt, W.A. Pantin, and R.W. Southern, pp. 49-75. Oxford: Clarendon, 1948.

"Medieval Manuscripts from Norwich Cathedral Priory." Transactions of the Cambridge Bibliographical Society I (1949): 1-28.

"Old English Notes Signed 'Coleman.'" Medium Ævum 18 (1949): 29-31.

"Salisbury Cathedral Manuscripts and Patrick Young's Catalogue." Wiltshire Archaeological Society Magazine 53 (1949): 1 53-83.

"Chaining from a Staple on the Back Cover." Bodleian Library Record 3 (1950): 104-107.

"Patrick Young's Catalogue of the Manuscripts of Lichfield Cathedral." Medieval and Renaissance Studies 2 (1950): 151-68.

Introduction to The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle. Edited from Gonville and Caius College MS 234/120 by R.M. Wilson . Early English Text Society. o.s., 229. London: Oxford University Press, 1954. [p. 434]

Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts Used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings, with a Survey of Oxford Binding, c. 1515-1620. Oxford Bibliographical Society Publications, n.s., 5. Oxford: Broome, 1954.

"The Chaining, Labelling, and Inventory Numbers of Manuscripts Belonging to the Old University Library." Bodleian Library Record 5 (1954-56): 176-80.

"Sir John Prise." The Library. 5th ser., 10 (I955): 1-24.

Ed. The Pastoral Care: King Alfred's Translation of St. Gregory's Regula Pastoralis: MS. Hatton 20 in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, MS. Cotton Tiberius B. xi in the British Museum, MS. Anhang 19 in the Landesbibliothek at Kassel. Early English Manuscript Facsimiles, 6. Copenhagen: Rosenkilde and Bagger, 1956.

"A Palimpsest in the National Library of Scotland [Advocates MSS 18.6. 12, 18.7.7, 18.7.8]: Early Fragments of Augustine 'De Trinitate,' the 'Passio S. Laurentii' and other texts." Transactions of the Edinburgh Bibliographical Society 3 (1948-55. published 1957): 169-78.

Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon. Oxford: Clarendon, 1957. Reissued 1990, with "A Supplement to Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo­ Saxon" (published in 1976 [see below]).

English Manuscripts in the Century After the Norman Conquest: The Lyell Lectures, 1952-53. Oxford: Clarendon, 1960.

"From 'Above Top Line' to 'Below Top Line': A Change in Scribal Practice." Celtica 5 (1960): 13-16.

"Oxford College Libraries in the Sixteenth Century." The Sandars Lectures in Bibliography, Cambridge, 1955. Bodleian Library Record 6 (1957-61): 459-515.

"The Virgin and Child Binder, LVL, and William Horman." The Library 17 (1962): 77-85.

Introduction to The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle: Ancrene Wisse. Edited from MS. Corpus Christi College Cambridge 402 by J.R.R. Tolkien. Early English Text Society, o.s., 249. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.

Introduction to The Owl and the Nightingale: Reproduced in Facsimile from the Surviving Manuscripts Jesus College Oxford 29 and British Museum Cotton Caligula A. ix. Early English Text Society, o.s., 251. London: Oxford University Press, 1963.

Introduction to The Facsimile of British Museum MS. Harley 2253. Early English Text Society, o.s., 255. London: Oxford University Press, 1965.

"Cathedral Libraries." Library History 1 (1967): 38-45.

The Will of Æthelgifu: A Tenth Century Anglo-Saxon Manuscript. Translated and Examined by Dorothy Whitelock, with a Note on the Document by Neil Ker, and Analyses of the Properties, Livestock and Chattels Concerned by Lord Rennell, pp. 45-48. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1968.

Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries: I London. Oxford: Clarendon, 1969.

"The Handwriting of Archbishop Wulfstan." In England Before the Conquest: Studies in Primary Sources Presented to Dorothy Whitelock, edited by Peter Clemoes and Kathleen Hughes, pp. 315-31. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1 971.

Ed. Records of All Souls College Library, 1437-1600. Bibliographical Society Publications, n.s., 16. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971.

"Kenneth Sisam, 1887-1971." Proceedings of the British Academy 58 (1974 for 1 972): 409-26.

"A Supplement to Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon." Anglo-Saxon England 5 (1976): 121-31.

"The Beginnings of Salisbury Cathedral Library." In Medieval Learning and Literature: Essays Presented to Richard William Hunt, edited by J.G. Alexander and M.T. Gibson, pp. 23-49. Oxford: Clarendon, 1976. [p. 435]

Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries: II Abbotsford-Keele. Oxford: Clarendon, 1977.

"Copying an Exemplar: Two Manuscripts of Jerome on Habakkuk." In Miscellanea Codicologica F. Masai: Dicata MCMLXXIX, edited by Pierre Cockshaw, Monique-Cecile Garand, and Pierre Jodogne, pp. 203-10. Ghent: Story-Scientia, 1979.

Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries: III Lampeter-Oxford. Oxford: Clarendon, 1983. [In proof at the time of Ker's death in August 1982, prepared for publication by Andrew G. Watson.]

"The Provision of Books." In The History of the University of Oxford, edited by James McConica, vol. 3, pp. 441-519. Oxford: Clarendon, 1986.

With Alan J. Piper. Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries: IV Paisley-York. Oxford: Clarendon, 1992.


Ker's unpublished letters and papers are housed in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. Professor Andrew G. Watson is literary executor. The unpublished catalog "Bindings of Early Books in the University of Illinois Library" is housed in the Rare Book Room of the University of Illinois, Urbana.


[Barker-Benfield, Bruce.] "Dr. N.R. Ker, C.B.E., F.B.A." Bodleian Library Record II (1983): 64-65.

Berkhout, Carl T. "In Memoriam: Neil Ripley Ker." Old English Newsletter 16 (1982): 18-19. And personal communication.

Brown, Julian. "Neil Ripley Ker, 1908-1982: A Memorial Address in Magdalen College Chapel (Oxford), 13 November 1982." Privately printed. Reprinted in Scrittura e civiltà 7 (1983): 265-70.

Campbell, Jackson J. Personal communication.

Cheney, C.R. "Introduction." In Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N.R. Ker, edited by M. B. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson, pp. xi­ xv. London: Scolar, 1978.

_____. "Obituary: Dr. Neil Ripley Ker, 1908-1982." Archives 16 (1983): 86-87.

[Davis, G.R.C.] "Dr N.R. Ker: Major Contributions to Palaeography." "Obituary." The Times (London [25 August 1982]): 10.

Dean, Ruth J., Paul J. Meyvaert, John C. Pope, and Richard H. Rouse. "Memoirs of Fellows and Corresponding Fellows: Neil Ripley Ker." Speculum 58 (1983): 870-72.

Friedman, John Block. Personal communication.

Gibbs, Joan. "A Bibliography of the Published Writings of N.R. Ker." In Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries: Essays Presented to N.R. Ker, edited by M.B. Parkes and Andrew G. Watson, pp. 371-79. London: Scolar, 1978.

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