The philologist W. W. Skeat was born in London on 21 November 1835. He matriculated at Christ's College, Cambrdge in 1854, studying Mathematics and Theology, and graduated B.A. in 1858. He was elected a Fellow of Christ's in 1860, and was ordained as an Anglican priest the following year. From 1878 until 1912 he was Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon in Cambridge. Among many other works he was the author of the 'Etymological Dictionary of the English Language' (1882), and his edition of Langland's 'Piers Plowman' was published in 1886. He was a pioneer in the systematic study of English place names, and was reputed to have been the first Cambridge professor to have ridden a bicycle. He died in Cambridge on 6 October 1912.
A poem in four cantos, with title page, preface, prologue, notes and appendix. The poem, a story of Fulke Fitzwarine, appears to be loosely based on a thirteenth-century romance 'Fouke le Fitzwarin', as printed in excerpt and described as 'an old Englisch boke yn ryme of the Gestes of Guarine and his sunnes' in Leland's 'Collectanea'. The Fitzwarine family story had been treated in verse earlier in the nineteenth century in 'Fitz-Gwarine, A Ballad of the Welsh Border' (1812) by John F. M. Dovaston, who also cited Leland as a source.
Corrected fair copy: the manuscript of the poem and accompanying matter includes amendments and cancellations reflected in the published edition, and the notes to all four cantos are located between the poem and the appendix and through-numbered. The manuscript title page has identical text (punctuation excepted) to the printed edition: 'A Tale of Ludlow Castle. By the Rev. W. W. Skeat. M.A. Late Fellow of Christ's College, Cambridge, and translator of "The Songs and Ballads of Uhland." London: Bell & Daldy. Cambridge: Deighton, Bell, and Co. 1866.' The verso of page 24 bears the note 'Sent by The Rev. W. W. Skeat, 22, Regent Street, Cambridge' and the remains of a postage stamp. With an accompanying sheet, partially in the hand of J. D. Pickles, recording the gift of the manuscript to Pickles by Skeat's grandson, T. C. Skeat, in 1989.
Presented by Dr J. D. Pickles via the Friends of Cambridge University Library, February 2008.