A catalogue of Western manuscripts at the Bodleian Libraries and selected Oxford colleges

MS. Hatton 51

Summary Catalogue no.: 4099


John Gower, Confessio Amantis
Rubric: Confessio Amantis... by Johan Gower squyer

In eight books, preceded by a table of contents (fol. i) and prologue (fol. 2v)

The text begins on fol. 9v and is imperfect through the loss of fols 60, 82, 121, 131 and of five or six leaves at the end, finishing with 'There ben full many yeres stole' (viii. 2408)

There are some 17th-century notes about Virginia, etc., on the margins of fols 5v, 6

Copied from Caxton's printed edition of 1483 as is made clear by the scribe reproducing the compositorial misprint 'otherwkse' (on the penultimate line of fol. 181r) from Caxton's printed text and also attempting to mirror the two-column layout and pagination of the printed volume (see Aditi Nafde, 'Gower From Print to Manuscript: Copying Caxton in Oxford, Bodleian Library, MS Hatton 51', in John Gower in Manuscripts and Early Printed Books [2020], p. 189, and N. F. Blake, William Caxton and English Literary Culture [1991], p. 291)

Language(s): Middle English

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: parchment
Extent: iv + '205' (really 202) leaves
Dimensions (binding): 12.5 × 9 in.


2 cols


Coloured capitals.


Stamped brown leather on boards, with two clasps, in poor condition, contemporary English work


Origin: c. 1500 ; England

Provenance and Acquisition

'Thys ys Harry Fawkener boke, T. Andria Fawkner', early 16th century (fol. 189v)

'Edwarde Stanley 1556' (fol. 186, compare fol. 200)

The name of 'Wylliam Blacker' occurs twice in a 16th-century hand on fol. 167

Christopher, first Baron Hatton (d. 1670)

Bought in 1671 by the Bodleian through the London bookseller Robert Scot (b. in or before 1632, d. 1709/1710); see Summary Catalogue, vol. 2, part 2, p. 801

Record Sources

Description adapted (May 2024) by Stewart J. Brookes from the Summary Catalogue (1937), with additional reference to published literature as cited


    Online resources:

    Printed descriptions:

    Derek Pearsall et al., A Descriptive Catalogue of the English Manuscripts of John Gower’s Confessio Amantis (Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2021), cat. 28

Last Substantive Revision

2024-05-13: Description revised to incorporate all the information in the Summary Catalogue (1937)