What’s New: A Digital Harmony

Houghton Library Blog 2013-03-08

Little Gidding Harmony, 1630, p. 1. A 1275.5In 1626, Nicholas Ferrar and his extended family withdrew from London to the village of Little Gidding, where they lived in secluded religious devotion. As part of their practices, the women of the family created a harmony of the Gospels, literally cutting and pasting the four texts to produce a single narrative. King Charles I, having heard of this remarkable production, in 1631 sent a messenger to Little Gidding requesting loan of the book so he could see it for himself, and was so taken with it that he kept it for several months, only returning it on the promise that the community would create another for him.

The harmony that so entranced Charles is today at Houghton Library, and thanks to a patron-funded digitization project, is now available online in its entirety. Due to the manner and materials of its construction, the book has been largely restricted from use, so it is particularly welcome news that it can now be made accessible in this form, and in a way that makes the remarkable craftsmanship of the women of Little Gidding visible.

Little Gidding Harmony, 1630, p. 12 (detail). A 1275.5

For more on this remarkable book, see this Harvard Library Bulletin article, “The Earliest Little Gidding Concordance” by C. Leslie Craig.

This post is part of a series called “What’s New.” Throughout the year, Houghton staff members will be blogging about new acquisitions and newly digitized materials. All posts associated with this series may be viewed by clicking on the What’sNew tag.

[Post contributed by John Overholt, Curator of the Donald and Mary Hyde Collection of Dr. Samuel Johnson and Early Modern Books and Manuscripts.]