Neil Ripley Ker

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Neil Ripley Ker CBE FBA (/kɛər/; 1908–1982) was a scholar of Anglo-Saxon literature. He was Reader in Palaeography at the University of Oxford and a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford until he retired in 1968.[1] He is known especially for his Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon, which is praised as a milestone in Anglo-Saxon manuscript study.[2]


Ker was born in Brompton, London, and was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford, completing a BA in English Language and Literature in 1931 and a BLitt in 1933. During the Second World War he was a conscientious objector.[3]

In 1945 he was elected a fellow of Magdalen College and in 1946 University Reader in Palaeography. In 1968 he retired from his roles at Oxford to focus on his largest work, Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries. He completed the first two volumes and most of the third and left a draft of the fourth.[4]


Annually, the British Academy awards grants in Ker's name to scholars who publish books "that include analysis of the distinctive features of original manuscripts."[5]

Publications (selected)[edit]

  • 1941: Medieval Libraries of Great Britain
  • 1954 Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts Used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings
  • 1957: Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon
  • 1960: English Manuscripts in the Century after the Norman Conquest
  • 1964: Medieval Libraries of Great Britain; 2nd ed.
  • 1969: Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries; vol. 1
  • 1977: Medieval Manuscripts in British Libraries; vol. 2


  1. ^ Berkhout, Carl T. (1982). "In Memoriam: Neil Ripley Ker (1908-82)". Old English Newsletter. University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Retrieved 5 March 2020.
  2. ^ Lapidge, Michael (1993). "Abbot Germanus, Winchcombe, Ramsey and the Cambridge Psalter". Anglo-Latin Literature 900-1066. Continuum. p. 387. ISBN 1-85285-012-4.
  3. ^ Kiernan, Kevin (1998). "N. R. Ker (1908-1982)". In Damico, Helen (ed.). Medieval Scholarship: Biographical Studies on the Formation of a Discipline. Vol. 2, Literature and Philology. Garland Publishing. pp. 425–437.
  4. ^ Doyle, A. I. (2002). "Neil Ripley Ker 1908–1982". In Lapidge, Michael (ed.). Interpreters of Early Medieval Britain. Oxford University Press. pp. 473–484. ISBN 9780197262771.
  5. ^ "Neil Ker Memorial Fund". British Academy. 2011. Archived from the original on 6 August 2011. Retrieved 15 July 2011.

Further reading[edit]

  • Doyle, A. I. (1993). Neil Ripley Ker, 1908–1982. Reprinted from 1991 lectures and memoirs, Proceedings of the British Academy, 80. Oxford University Press for the British Academy. OCLC 311053451.

External links[edit]