Quills for the Dead

IMG_9303He may be over 500 years old, but John Stow still gets a new pen every five years.

According to the blog Spitalfields Life, for “Stow, one the earliest historians of London, a quill is his preferred writing instrument and, every five years, a replacement is delivered upon a satin cushion to his monument in St Andrew Undershaft in the City of London.” And it’s delivered by the Lord Mayor of London herself in full regalia.

What a spiffing tradition!

Stow is best known for his 1598 Survey of London, which gives us our most detailed account of that city during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He corresponded with many notable men of his era, and letters attest to a lively exchange of books—precious commodities in Stow’s day—borrowed back and forth across the country.

“Mr. Stowe, because I will breake promesse with you no more I have, although it be late, first put you these pamphlets, and therwith youre other booke, which I borrowed last, and desyre you to lend me youre bede and yor pedigree of kinges, and so till or next meeting I bid you farewell.

Yor loving friend,
Henry Ferrers”

I wish those who have borrowed my books over the years were as careful about returning them. To see photos of the presentation of the quill and to learn more about John Stow, read the post about the ceremony in Spitalfields Life.

2 thoughts on “Quills for the Dead

  1. jeanne lambson says:

    I agree with your wish for borrowers! Not only take care of them but return them in a timely manner. This includes DVDs and CDs. You are talking to a frustrated mom of adult children who often borrow from the parent library and don’t sign them out in my “Loan Log”

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