James I described Lambeth Palace Library as 'a monument of fame' in his kingdom. It is the historic library of the Archbishops of Canterbury; its records date from the 9th century to the present day. In this new collection of treasures from the Library, sixty items are reproduced in glorious detail alongside extended expert commentary. These include illuminated manuscripts from the Middle Ages such as the Macdurnan gospels and "Hours of Richard III"; manuscripts from the Tudor and Stuart eras, including a Venetian Atlas, a letter from Elizabeth I on her recovery from smallpox and the execution warrant for Mary Queen of Scots; early printed books, among them a "Gutenberg Bible" with English illumination, possibly the first printed book to come to England, and Elizabeth I's own prayer book with her portrait. Later items include the medical reports on the madness of George III and the "Golden Cockerel Press Four Gospels", one of the masterpieces of Eric Gill. An introduction by Dr Palmer traces the history of the Library and sets the selected treasures in the wider context of the Library's collections.
Dr Richard Palmer has been Librarian and Archivist of Lambeth Palace Library since 1991. He was formerly Curator of Western Manuscripts at the Wellcome Institute and honorary lecturer in the history of medicine at University College London. Michelle Brown is Professor of Medieval Manuscript Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. She was formerly Curator of Medieval and Illuminated Manuscripts at the British Library.