2013 – First Neu-Whitrow Bibliography Prize

First Prize for the Bibliography of History of Science

We celebrated the centenary of the Isis Bibliography of the History of Science, founded by George Sarton, with a new award for a bibliography or archival finding aid – Neu-Whitrow Bibliography Prize. The prize is sponsored by the International Union for the History and Philosophy of Science/Division of History of Science. The prize is named after two bibliographers who followed George Sarton: Magda Whitrow who worked at Imperial College on the Cumulative Bibliography of History of Science and John Neu who worked at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as the editor of the annual bibliography for thirty-five years.

Birutė Railienė presents Jennifer M. Rampling as the winner of the Neu-Whitrow Bibliography Prize in 2013 for the work The Catalogue of the Ripley Corpus (CRC).Picture by Helen Morgan.

Jennifer M. Rampling was the winner of the Neu-Whitrow Bibliography Prize in 2013 for the work The Catalogue of the Ripley Corpus (CRC).

On behalf of the Commission on Bibliography and Documentation, I express my sincere appreciation to the applicants for their participation in the competition. All of the entries presented a well-developed resource, all were recently published, and all demonstrated sophisticated bibliographical/archival understanding.

More about the Catalogue of the Ripley Corpus (CRC)

“The Catalogue of the Ripley Corpus: Alchemical Writings Attributed to George Ripley (d. ca. 1490” (CRC) was published as an extended article in the journal Ambixin July 2010. It provides a descriptive catalogue of works attributed to the English alchemist George Ripley, dating from the late fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, with an index of all known manuscript copies.

Alchemical writings provide a rich store of information on pre-modern theories of matter, medical knowledge, artisanal techniques, and the development of experimental philosophies, not to mention attitudes towards God, nature, change, and the achievability of terrestrial perfection. Research is still constrained by the demands of the available sources, many of which remain unedited. Even the most influential alchemical writings often circulated in a variety of formats, redactions and translations.

The CRC provides a tool for mapping alchemical ideas and practices over time: by providing a detailed record of all works and manuscript witnesses associated with England’s most famous alchemist, George Ripley (d. ca. 1490). While Ripley is best known for his long Middle English poem, the Compound of Alchemy (1471), a large body of alchemical writings accumulated under his name, both during his lifetime and after. Over two and a half centuries, this corpus accreted through processes of textual amalgamation, misattribution, and deliberate pseudepigraphy. The resulting body of related writings constitutes the “Ripley Corpus,” as identified and recorded in the CRC. This corpus consists of approximately 45 major texts under 35 headings, comprising both Ripley’s authentic works and those later ascribed to him, including several previously unidentified works. Under each title, the CRC lists detailed entries on all known manuscript copies of each work: altogether, 510 items gleaned from 170 manuscripts, comprising 416 complete or near complete copies of “Ripleian” writings, and 94 fragments.