11 Jul 2021

British Nun Identifies 700-Year-Old Manuscripts in Dante’s Handwriting

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Julia Bolton Holloway, Hermit, Scholar, Custodian of Florence’s Victorian ‘English’ Cemetery.

Most news reports are behind paywalls, but the Daily Mail comes through for us again:

A handwritten manuscript by Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy, Italy’s ‘national poet’ and father of modern Italian, has been discovered by a nun.

Dante was born in 1265 in Florence and was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, but nobody has seen his handwriting in centuries.

This new discovery was found by a Florence-based researcher turned nun, who claims to have stumbled on the work hidden away in two libraries, according to a report in The Times.

They date to his time as a student in Florence when he was copying out works on the art of government, and were found in both Florence and the Vatican.

Julia Bolton Holloway taught Medieval studies at Princeton University in New Jersey, before becoming a nun and running the English cemetery in Florence.

She said the writing was ‘schoolboy-like’ but in excellent Tuscan, which provided the blueprint for Italian and covers ideas that show up in Divine Comedy.


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