Quill: a new website for medieval manuscript lovers!

Initial P from Leiden VLQ 38, f. 23r

A super-cool website about medieval manuscripts has gone online today!

“This is to alert you to a new product of the “Turning Over a New Leaf” project: a website (in English) devoted to the medieval manuscript, aimed at a non-expert audience: http://quill.leiden.edu/. Some sixty web pages take you through the different production stages of the manuscript, and highlight important facets of the book before print. Short explanatory texts are paired with beautiful photographs, produced by Giulio Menna, professional photographer and co-producer of the website.
Quill went live today and was two years in the making. It was produced with funding of De Jonge Akademie, logistical support of Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS), and with generous help of Leiden University Library, Special Collections.”

And guess who are the authors? I am sure you know both of them:

The mastermind behind the project is Dr. Erik Kwakkel, author of the message above, someone you will certainly know for his successful Twitter and Tumblr accounts, blog, YouTube videos, books, lectures and whatnot dedicated to medieval manuscripts.

The guy who had the incredible luck of having to go through hundreds of manuscripts over at Leiden University Library in order to take photos was, as mentioned a few lines above, well… me!

BPL-304, f.142v, Watermark
BPL-304, f.142v, Watermark

The Quill and the camera

Shooting photos for Quill was part of my internship back then. As you can imagine, it was a wonderful experience, and I am extremely proud of the final result. I feel also blessed to have had the opportunity to spend days and days in the Special Collections, ordering out all sorts of manuscripts, searching for the details I needed to take a photo of, and then ordering out some more, just to look at them and enjoy their beauty. A once in a lifetime chance. I am very grateful to Erik for having given me this opportunity.

Now, here is Erik’s post about Quill, here you will find how the project came to be and what we did to realize it, a little behind the scenes action.. If you want to see the website directly, go to Quill: Books Before Print!

Enjoy, and let us know what you think. You can find Erik on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Flickr. He also writes a fantastic blog!

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Giulio Menna
Giulio is an MA graduate in Book and Digital Media Studies from Leiden University, the Netherlands. He is also system librarian at Leiden University Library. Founder and developer of Sexy Codicology and the DMMmaps Project; lover of medieval manuscripts and of all things digital.