In 2004, Professor Linne Mooney identified the scrivener who worked on the Ellesmere Chaucer and Hengwrt Chaucer, two manuscripts of the Canterbury Tales by the 14th-century poet Geoffrey Chaucer as an Adam Pinkhurst. Mooney, then a professor at the University of Maine and a visiting fellow at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, proposed to match Pinkhurst's flamboyantly-written signature on an oath he signed to his lettering to the handwriting in these early manuscript of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, thought to be closely derived from Chaucer's holograph.
Not only was this discovery — if correct — significant in shedding light on the relationship between a writer, his scrivener and their manuscripts at that time, it would also contribute to our understanding of one of Chaucer's shortest works. Chaucer words unto Adam his scrivener takes a scribe called Adam to task for the many errors he introduces and the amount of work Chaucer has to do correcting them.
- Adam scrivener, if ever thee befall
- Boece or Troilus for to write new,
- Under thy longe locks thow maist have the scall,
- But after my makinge thou write mor trew,
- So oft a day I mot thy werke renewe
- It to correct, and eke to rubbe and scrape,
- And all is thorowe thy necligence and rape.
Pinkhurst had in fact been suggested as a possible candidate for "Adam scrivener" as early as the late 1920s.
Based on their shared work on another manuscript, Pinkhurst has been suggested as a colleague of "Scribe D", another copyist of the Tales, and both scribes may have worked for the same bookseller or moved in the same literary circles.
Mooney's identification has, however, been questioned and doubted by several specialists, and it has by no means been accepted by all others: see for example, Simon Horobin, 'Adam Pinkhurst, Geoffrey Chaucer, and the Hengwrt Manuscript of the Canterbury Tales', The Chaucer Review, 44 no.4 (2010) and Jane Roberts, 'On Giving Scribe B a Name and a Clutch of London manuscripts from c.1400', Medium Aevum, 80 (2011)
- Linne R. Mooney, ‘Chaucer’s Scribe’, Speculum, 81 (2006), 97–138.
- For an early suggestion of Pinkhurst's name see Wagner, B. M. TLS, June 13, 1929: 474
- Kerby-Fulton, K. Written work: Langland, labor, and authorship, Publisher University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997, p.118
- Mooney, Linne R. and Stubbs, Estelle . 2013. "Scribes and the City: London Guildhall Clerks and the Dissemination of Middle English Literature, 1375-1425". York Medieval Press. ISBN 9781903153406.
- Ezard, John, 'The scrivener's tale: how Chaucer's sloppy copyist was unmasked after 600 years', The Guardian, 20 July 2004
- Late Medieval English Scribes: profiles for Adam Pinkhurst
- Finding Adam - Medieval manuscript research solves age-old mystery about Chaucer's scribe[dead link]
- University of Cambridge scholar identifies mystery scribe of The Canterbury Tales [dead link]