Title Background

Langland’s <i>Piers Plowman</i> in Hm 143: Copy, Commentary, Censorship.

Langland’s Piers Plowman in Hm 143: Copy, Commentary, Censorship.

Huntington Hm 143 (sigil X) is well-known as the copy text for all twentieth-century editions of the C text. With privileged access to the last revision of L’s poem only a few years after its completion, now reckoned after 1388, the manuscript also preserves early evidence of the poem’s reception. Directly involved in the copying project, the second scribe — working as supervisor, corrector, and perhaps also patron — added a running commentary in the margins recording mostly in English a variety of responses to L’s text. Later in the fifteenth century, a third scribe sanitized the text by carefully erasing nearly all instances of the words ‘Piers’ and ‘plowman’ in the text and even the marginal notes. This article assesses the implications of these layers of evidence for the poem’s shifting social meaning from the late Ricardian into the Lancastrian era.