William Dunbar, 'The Nobill Poyet': Essays in Honour of Priscilla Bawcutt

William Dunbar, 'The Nobill Poyet': Essays in Honour of Priscilla Bawcutt

William Dunbar, 'The Nobill Poyet': Essays in Honour of Priscilla Bawcutt

William Dunbar, 'The Nobill Poyet': Essays in Honour of Priscilla Bawcutt


William Dunbar is the most brilliant of the Scottish poets of the late medieval and early Renaissance period. The essays in this collection have been written specifically to address major aspects of the literary, textual and linguistic contexts of Dunbar's poetry, and to assess his impact on subsequent generations of Scottish poets. It was published to coincide with the definitive new edition of Dunbar's poetry by Priscilla Bawcutt.


This volume of essays celebrates a great scholarly achievement: the publication for the Association for Scottish Literary Studies (ASLS) of The Poems of William Dunbar, edited by Priscilla Bawcutt. It also provides an opportunity to mark the unparalleled contribution to the field of Older Scots literary studies that Priscilla Bawcutt's work has made. the bibliography of her published writings, compiled by Elspeth Yeo, with which this book concludes, conveys the breadth and depth of Priscilla Bawcutt's work in the editing and criticism of Older Scots over the past forty years. This collection of essays takes Dunbar as its focus, but Priscilla Bawcutt's range has been much wider than this. the first major phase of her research was on Gavin Douglas, on whom she has also continued to publish. the development of her interests in manuscript history and culture has led to a host of discoveries and elucidations of other Scottish texts and their sources, and to recent publications on women's book ownership in medieval and Renaissance Scotland.

But many of those who themselves work in this subject will know that her contributions have been larger still than that. 'Ask Priscilla' is the injunction that either comes to mind or is prompted by others when one has an interpretative quandary, thinks one has discovered something new, or wants to know about recherché bibliography. Letters from Priscilla in response to queries of this sort are collectors' items, as well as being admirably legible. Older Scots scholarship has been extremely fortunate that such a distinguished scholar has devoted her publishing career to work in this field.

The original idea for the book and the conference that lay behind it came from an equally great scholar, the late A.J. Aitken. He and I made plans for it at fortnightly lunches in one of his favourite haunts, Rachel's café in the Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, during the spring and summer of 1997. Jack had tremendous admiration for Priscilla and for her work, and it is characteristic of his own generous dedication to the subject that he devoted so much of the last year of his life to organising a venture of this sort. His death, in February 1998, came a few months before the conference itself. That conference, and this volume, are dedicated to him.

Thanks are due to the British Academy and the Scottish International Education Trust for grants to enable overseas speakers to attend the conference at which these papers were first given. They are also due to the School of Scottish Studies and the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, Edinburgh, for use of venues and for assistance during the conference. the . . .

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