Reintroducing the English Books of Hours, or English primers

Kathleen E. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In 1956 Henry Hargreaves wrote a short notice that drew scholarly attention to a group of English translations of the Book of Hours: although he identified the translation of some of them as being drawn from the Wycliffite Bible, they have not been added to the lists of Wycliffite Bible manuscripts and no further research has been done on them. Scholarly acknowledgment of these books, and hesitation to study them, may be due to their troubling complexity. The English Hours pose a serious puzzle to modern scholarship on late medieval England. On one hand, the English Hours are an excellent introduction to the process through which a traditionally Latin text was transformed into an English one. On the other hand, they challenge our understanding of audiences for vernacular scripture in general and the Wycliffite Bible's text in particular and seem to contradict our understanding of the religious practices of people scholars call Wycliffites or Lollards. These are all reasons to reconsider this group of seventeen manuscripts as a key towards a more nuanced understanding of vernacular religion in fifteenth-century England.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)693-723
Number of pages31
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Religious studies
  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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