With close to five hundred records relating to his life surviving and the prospect of still more being found, Geoffrey Chaucer remains one of the best-documented premodern Britons. The commanding size and actuarial precision of the surviving Chaucer archive speaks volumes about the dedication of medieval society to tallying, record keeping and categorising: we know exactly how much Chaucer owed to whom and where he travelled to; we can retrace his footsteps and count his pennies. His life, oscillating between ledger and embassy, opens a window onto 14th-century London, an intimate city with a thriving mercantile culture that reached out to the rest of the known world. It is through Chaucer that we catch a glimpse of everyday life in London beyond the familiar opulence of aristocratic society.
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Happy #IndexDay! "Reading in reverse" is about as perfect a description of using an index as we've come across. (We've been #indexing from home this week, and the total immersion in a book's themes and schemes is oddly soothing. Categorical love to indexers everywhere 📚) https://twitter.com/Lit_Review/status/1244897571161755649
Wishing you all a very happy National Indexing Day! To celebrate, have a read of this piece by Stuart Hannabus on the joy of indexes, and the fun of reading in reverse. #indexday
'There can’t be many histories of London that have given room, for instance, to the Koreans of New Malden or the Bombay Emporium of Mayfair in the 1930s.'
Jerry White on @profpanayi's 'Migrant City'.