York University professor first Canadian to receive Bibliographical Society Gold Medal

York University Professor James Carley has been awarded the Gold Medal by the Bibliographical Society, a U.K.-based organization that describes itself as the “senior learned society dealing with the study of the book and its history.”

James Carley

Carley is a Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus in the Department of English, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS). He is known for his expertise in medieval manuscripts and for his studies of royal, episcopal and aristocratic libraries in early modern Britain. He is the first Canadian to be awarded this medal.

Carley’s interpretations of historical texts have been described as being able to open a window on an entire landscape where other modes of historical inquiry fall short, according to nomination letters provided to the Bibliographical Society.

He is the author of more than 75 published articles and numerous books, including The Chronicle of Glastonbury (1985), The Books of King Henry VIII and his Wives (2004), and John Leland. De uiris illustribus: An Edition and Translation (2010).

Among his many honours and awards are the election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2002. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for services to scholarship in Canada and internationally, and the following year, the Pierre Chauveau Medal of the Royal Society of Canada for “distinguished contribution to knowledge in the humanities.” He has served on the Council of the Bibliographical Society of Canada.

From 2016 to 2017, Carley was the first Canadian to be elected as master of the Worshipful Company of Barbers, a livery company based in London, U.K. Originally devoted to the practice of medicine, the livery now focuses on education and charity work. During his one-year term as master, Carley was recognized for bringing more women and Canadians to speak at the livery’s meetings.

The presentation of the Bibliographical Society Gold Medal will take place on Jan. 21, 2020, at the Society of Antiquaries of London in the U.K.

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