The Canterbury Tales Project

The Canterbury Tales Project aims to investigate the textual tradition of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales to achieve a better understanding of the history of its composition and publication before 1500. Here is how we work:

We have established a system of transcription for all the manuscripts and early printed books of the Canterbury Tales into computer-readable form.

We transcribe the manuscripts using this system.

We compare all the manuscripts, creating a record of their agreements and disagreements with a computer collation program (Collate).

We use computer-based methods, some drawn from evolutionary biology, to help reconstruct the history of the text from this record of agreements and disagreements.

We publish all the materials, the results of our analysis, and the tools which we use in electronic form.

Principal investigator
Dr Peter Robinson
Principal project staff
Dr Barbara Bordalejo; Professor Peter Robinson
Start date
Friday, January 1, 1999
Source material
Altogether, we have published transcripts and images of over 5000 pages from manuscripts and early editions of the Canterbury Tales, amounting to around 20% of all surviving fifteenth-century witnesses.

Since 1996, the Canterbury Tales Project has been producing editions of individual tales, as well as individual manuscript facsimiles. The Project also produced two volumes of articles, the Occasional Papers volumes I and II. Online versions of these articles which can be found here.

During the first years of the Project, Cambridge University Press published The Wife of Bath's Prologue on CD-ROM (1996) and The General Prologue on CD-ROM (2000)

In the year 2000, a change of policy at CUP made it necessary to change publishers. In that year, Scholarly Digital Editions was born. Our current publications can be found on their website.

SDE has published The Hengwrt Chaucer Digital Facsimile, research edition (2000) and standard edition (2003), Caxton's Canterbury Tales: The British Library Copies (2003), The Miller's Tale on CD-ROM, and The Nun's Priest's Tale on CD-ROM (2006). We are currently working on A Digital Fascimile of Cambridge Dd.4.24 and The Franklin's Tale on CD-ROM (Fall 2006); The Merchant's Tale on CD-ROM (Late Fall 2006); The Multitext Edition of the Canterbury Tales (Winter 2006-2007)