Handwritten books did not disappear after the advent of print in the West. The British Arts and Crafts movement was an attempt in the late 19th and early 20th century to revitalize handcraftsmanship as a reaction against increasing mechanization, including that of printing technologies. Today’s featured item, Fate of the Children of Usnach, is representative of this effort. Usnach is a segment of the Ulster Cycle, a group of ancient Irish tales concerning the legendary Irish figure Cuchulain of Muirthemne. Lady Augusta Gregory produced an English version in 1902. This manuscript rendition of Gregory’s text, created shortly afterwards, is the handiwork of calligrapher Edward Johnston, and it is thought that illustrator and type designer Eric Gill, a student of Johnston, may have illustrated portions of it. DB

Fate of the Children of Usnach [Manuscript] ca 1904. Post-1650 MS 0291