This book was begun nine years ago. Its origins lie even earlier in the mists of time, with my undergraduate obsession with the fifteenth-century Londoners' processes of understanding, reading and writing. And while this book has gradually grown from an idea to a tome, a great many other things have also taken place. Most significantly for me, my children have been conceived, born, and have grown into delightful, wonderful people.
My first word of thanks therefore, must go to our children, Georgina, Alexandra and Fergus, who have accepted, almost without complaint, my hours in libraries and at the computer and my determination to inform them about Medieval life. Their love, joy, demands and co-operation have kept me firmly planted in 'real life', and are a continual reminder of the transience of human existence and the permanence of the written word.
There are of course many others whose assistance is required to complete a project such as this. I wish to thank many people for their help and support in the writing of this book. Dr Thomson, Professor Brown and Mark Jenner all directed me to chronicle material. Numerous librarians have made it as easy as possible for me to have access to manuscript collections, particularly the manuscripts staff at the Bodleian Library, the staff of the students' room at the British Library, and the librarians and keepers of manuscripts at Trinity College, Dublin, University Library, Cambridge, Lambeth Palace Library, the Guildhall library, the Corporation of London, Trinity College, Cambridge, St John's College, Oxford and Hatfield House Library. My special thanks go to the staff of the West Yorkshire Archives Service, Bradford, Kate Harriss of Longleat House and Richard York of the College of Arms. Professor Eric Stanley and Dr Anne Gilmour-Bryson read various parts of my work. Their suggestions and criticisms have been very much appreciated. The staff at Boydell & Brewer, particularly Caroline Palmer, have been very helpful and most patient in guiding me through the process of publication.
The late Mr Laurie Gardiner from the University of Melbourne introduced me to the chronicles as an area of study and throughout my undergraduate and graduate years was constantly generous with his knowledge and skill. In particular Dr Caroline Barron, from Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, has been an on-going support both personally and academically over the last fifteen years. She began by providing me with an academic home while I sojourned in London and continues to be extremely helpful and encouraging, offering me many opportunities and much sound advice. Much credit goes to her for seeing this work translated