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Dr Deirdre Jackson

Research Associate

Deirdre Jackson is a Research Associate in the Department of Manuscripts and Printed Books at the Fitzwilliam Museum. Her main focus is the Cambridge Illuminations Project, but she is also conducting research that will inform and underpin the Fitzwilliam Museum’s bicentenary exhibition, Colour: The Art and Science of Illuminated Manuscripts (30 July–30 December 2016). She completed her PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art, London in 2002, and then worked at the University of Oxford (2003–2006) and the British Library (2007–2011) where she catalogued over 600 manuscripts. At the British Library, she also helped to curate the exhibition Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination (2010–2011) and was one of the main contributors to the catalogue. Her most recent book explores the lives of medieval women. Before coming to the UK she worked as a visual artist and earned a BFA (1988), MFA (1990), and MA (1997) in her native Canada.


Research Interests

History of the book/ manuscript studies, especially the art of illumination; material culture of medieval Europe; fables, folklore and miracle tales as represented in art; history of women; Jewish studies; natural history, particularly beasts and beast lore; geography, maps; diagrams, encyclopaedias, colour symbolism.


Recent/Major Publications


Medieval Women (London: British Library, 2015)

Lion (London: Reaktion Books, 2010)

Marvellous to Behold: Miracles in Medieval Manuscripts (London: British Library, 2007)


Co-edited volumes

A Catalogue of Western Book Illumination in the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Cambridge Colleges Part Three. France. Vol. 1: France, c.1000-c.1250, co-ed. with N. Morgan and S. Panayotova (London and Turnhout: Harvey Miller/Brepols), 2015)


Contributions to catalogues and conference volumes

Royal Manuscripts: The Genius of Illumination (London: British Library, 2011), forty-two entries for the printed catalogue, which was short-listed for the William M. B. Berger Prize 2012: cat. nos. 11-19, 37, 38, 41, 42, 60, 61, 70-72, 75, 77, 79-87, 91, 101, 112, 113, 116, 129, 130, 135, 144, 145, 147, 148

‘The Influence of the Theophilus Legend: An Overlooked Miniature in Alfonso X’s Cantigas de Santa Maria and its Wider Context’, in Under the Influence: The Concept of Influence and the Study of Illuminated Manuscripts, ed. John Lowden and Alixe Bovey (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008), 75-87

‘A Proposed Reconstruction of the Disordered Quires of Florence, Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Banco Rari 20’, in The Conference Proceedings: The City and the Book, International Congress, Florence 4-6 September 2002, ed. Julia Bolton Holloway (


Journal articles

‘Humfrey Wanley and the Harley Collection’, Electronic British Library Journal (2011), Article 2

‘“Divers manuscrits, à la fois anciens et curieux”: les trésors de la collection Harley désormais en ligne’, Histoire et Images Medievales 26 (2009), 16-20

‘Tesori in Rete: la collezione Harley’, Alumina; Pagine Miniate 26 (2009), 30-37 (with Laura Nuvoloni)

‘Collection, Composition, and Compilation in the Cantigas de Santa Maria’, Portuguese Studies 22.2 (2006), 7-20 (with Stephen Parkinson)


Digital publications and resources


DIGITAL LAYERS: cross-disciplinary research and teaching resource on the production, textual and visual contents, ownership and use of illuminated manuscripts (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, forthcoming, 2016)

‘Manuscript Art’, and ‘Introduction: Manuscripts and the Liturgy’, in The English Parish Church, ed. D. Dyas, interactive DVD-ROM published by the Centre for the Study of Christianity and Culture, University of York, 2010


Contributor and Consultant

The Oxford Cantigas de Santa Maria database


Recent Papers

‘Models of Collaboration: A Case Study of Cambridge, Fitzwilliam Museum, MS 62.’ 48th International Congress on Medieval Studies, Kalamazoo (May 9-12 2013)

‘Royal Writer, Royal Reader: Alfonso X and the Cantigas de Santa Maria.’ Reading the Middle Ages, UC Berkeley (25-26 March 2011)

‘Inspiration and Innovation in Alfonso X’s Cantigas de Santa Maria.’ Cambridge Medieval Art Seminars, Michaelmas Term 2010 (25 October 2010)

‘Sacred Book, Secular Court: Alfonso X’s Cantigas de Santa Maria.’ Patronage and the Sacred Book in the Medieval Mediterranean, Brandeis University (18-19 October 2010)