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Open Access The Ripley Scrolls: Alchemical Poetry, Images and Authority

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The Ripley Scrolls: Alchemical Poetry, Images and Authority

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Chapter Summary

This chapter comprises questions through the history of the poems on the Ripley Scrolls. It first describes the Scrolls and existing scholarship on their rather exceptional presentation of alchemical experimentation, and then considers circumstances around the poems' appearance in particular media. Finally the chapter discusses the role of illumination in alchemical texts' authority, popularity and reception. The Scroll images also appear in a variety of publications focusing on medieval art history, often without substantial textual explanation. The combination of scroll format and illumination was unusual in alchemical contexts. The Ripley Scrolls' combination of alchemy, poetry, scroll format and illumination is unique in the body of Middle English alchemical manuscripts. The chapter also investigates the Ripley attribution and the impression of alchemical authority preserved in the final Scroll poem, "Trinity", to illuminate this issue.

Keywords: alchemical authority; alchemical poetry; Middle English alchemical manuscripts; Ripley Scrolls; Scroll images



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