Janet Backhouse

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Janet Backhouse (8 February 1938 – 3 November 2004) was a leading authority in the field of illuminated manuscripts.

Backhouse was born in Corsham, Wiltshire, and was educated at Stonar School and Bedford College, London. In 1962 she joined the British Museum's Department of Manuscripts as an Assistant Keeper.[1] In 1998 she retired from the British Library (as it had since become) as Curator of Illuminated Manuscripts. By the end of her career "she had established an international reputation as one of the foremost scholars in her field".[2]

A festschrift, Illuminating the Book: Makers and Interpreters: Essays in Honour of Janet Backhouse, was published on the occasion of her retirement, edited by Michelle P. Brown and Scot McKendrick (1998).

Select bibliography[edit]

  • The Illuminated Manuscript (1979)
  • The Lindisfarne Gospels (1981) – on the Lindisfarne Gospels
  • Books of Hours (1985)
  • The Luttrell Psalter (1989) – on the Luttrell Psalter
  • The Bedford Hours (1990) – on the Bedford Hours
  • The Isabella Breviary (1993) – on the Isabella Breviary
  • The Illuminated Page: Ten Centuries of Manuscript Painting in the British Library (1997)
  • The Sherborne Missal (1999) – on the Sherborne Missal
  • Medieval Rural Life in the Luttrell Psalter (2000)
  • Medieval Birds in the Sherborne Missal (2001)
  • Illumination from Books of Hours (2004)


  1. ^ Pamela Porter and Shelley Jones, "Janet Backhouse: Colleague and Friend", in Michelle P. Brown and Scot McKendrick (eds), Illuminating the Book: Makers and Interpreters: Essays in Honour of Janet Backhouse (London: The British Library, 1998), p. 11.
  2. ^ Obituary in The Times, 29 December 2004. Accessed 3 August 2010.