Piers Plowman

The B-Version Archetype (Bx)

Edited by John Burrow, Thorlac Turville-Petre

Piers Plowman

388 pp., 6 x 9, 1 drawings, 2 tables, notes

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-9413-3114-9
    Published: July 2018
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-9413-3113-2
    Published: July 2018

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Distributed for the Society for Early English and Norse Electronic Texts

This edition, the first of its kind in Piers Plowman studies, aims to establish the archetypal text of the B-version of the poem, the ancestor of all extant manuscripts. The editors claim that this can be determined with certainty in the majority of lines by examining the relationship between the best copies of the alpha and beta families of the B-version stemma. Past editors have attempted to reconstruct the authorial text by extensive emendation, but Burrow and Turville-Petre claim that the archetype was not nearly as corrupt as previously maintained. In Piers Plowman: The B-Version Archetype the editors have opened a new chapter in the study of the B-text tradition.

About the Authors

John A. Burrow was emeritus professor at the University of Bristol, and the author of many studies of medieval literature, including Langland’s Fictions.
For more information about John Burrow, visit the Author Page.

Thorlac Turville-Petre is emeritus professor at the University of Nottingham, and author of a number of books on Middle English, including Description and Narrative in Middle English Alliterative Poetry.
For more information about Thorlac Turville-Petre, visit the Author Page.


“Burrow and Turville-Petre’s new edition of the B-version archetype is certainly the most significant contribution to Piers Plowman textual studies in the last twenty years, perhaps in the nearly sixty years since George Kane’s A-text.”--Ralph Hanna, University of Oxford

“[S]hows the extraordinary potential of the Piers Plowman Electronic Archive to create a new way of engaging with the notoriously complex editorial problems posed by Piers Plowman.”--Manuscript Studies