Deborah Thorpe – About me


I am a Marie Skłodowska-Curie COFUND Fellow for 2017-18 at Trinity College Dublin Long Room Hub. My fellowship is in association with Trinity’s School of Histories and Humanities and the Manuscript, Book and Print Cultures research theme. I joined TCD from the University of York where I was a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Department of Electronics and Department of English (2014-17). I remain a Visiting Research Fellow  at the University of York. At TCD I am conducting a palaeographical study of the work of ageing and elderly scribes in medieval and early modern manuscript books and documents, with a focus on Irish resources. The overarching aim of my research is to better understand the handwriting changes associated with normal physiological ageing, as well as the stylistic developments that occurred as fashions changed, and scribes were influenced by patrons and other scribes around them.

My research develops a novel interdisciplinary methodology to investigate the links between physiological ageing processes and the forms and features of historical handwriting. It combines palaeography – scrutiny of features of the writing – with medical understanding of the physical, neurological and psychological factors affecting movement, and how these factors are accessed and monitored in modern clinical practice. The research project works within the fields of the digital humanities, electronics and computer science, and promises a wider and more diverse understanding of medieval scribes, widening our understanding of the tribulations faced by scribes, and building on existing studies that have hitherto focused on young and healthy scribes.

I have developed a keen interest in public engagement, and in policy surrounding healthcare and ageing. Therefore, my blog reflects this diversity in my interests.

Debs Thorpe



  1. Dear Debs,
    I’d like to introduce myself. Ulrike Wuttke suggested that I contact you about the conference on Early Modern Prophecies coming up in London. I and another colleague (both of us work on prophecy) are proposing a panel on prophecies in the transitional period between manuscript and print. Ulrike thought that you might have some interest. If so, I could tell you more about what we’re proposing and see if you’d like to join us. Let me know. All the best.

    Frances Courtney Kneupper :

  2. Charlotte Whatley · · Reply

    Hi there!
    I actually heard about your new project from my friend Abby Gautreau. I am a medievalist currently working on legal writs from the King’s Bench and Common Pleas in the reign of Edward III. When she mentioned your project, I was immediately intrigued because I have run across a number of documents that are in a very interesting hand (I have categorized them as looking as if they were written from the back of a horse at full gallop). Not sure if these would be of interest, but I thought I would contact you to see. Hope to hear from you.

    1. Hi Charlotte! I would be very interested. One of the great things about my new project is the potential for collaboration and inspiration like this! I will send you a proper email when I am at my desk. Thanks for getting in touch.

    2. Hi Charlotte. Could you send me your email address, to

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