Saturday, 2 May 2015

Erik Drigsdahl (1942–2015)

There can hardly be a student of illuminated manuscripts that does not know, and has not benefited from, the website of Erik Drigsdahl at His online tools and guides for identifying the liturgical Use of Books of Hours has perhaps contributed more to the accurate localisation of manuscripts, and thus their earliest provenance, than any other resource.

Erik Drigsdahl, London, 2009
I first met Erik in 1988 when he came to Oxford to present a paper at a conference about "Medieval Book Production: Assessing the Evidence", but did not get to know him until several years later, when email enabled easy communication between him in Copenhagen and me in Oxford or London. I got to know him especially well from 2008, when he came to stay with me in London for the first of three visits, always during Wimbledon fortnight. On the first visit he spent much of each day studying manuscripts at the British Library, or photocopying photos of calendars and litanies in the Conway Library at the Courtauld Institute, but by the third he was content to spend his time divided between watching Wimbledon and sitting in my little garden, smoking one of several pipes.

On his last visit in 2010 he talked of making a long visit to Rome to use the Vatican Library, but his health, which had been poor for many years, declined further, and his trip to Italy never took place. I visited him in Copenhagen in 2013, and although he was still mentally sharp, it was apparent that his physical health was steadily worsening. We kept in touch until two months ago; yesterday I learned that he died on 26 March. The outline of his life and academic career can be found on his website.


  1. I'm very sorry to hear that. He was an interesting person.

  2. Thanks, Peter, for letting us know this sad news. Thus has passed away a scholar of the highest standard: very independent, very demanding, but always generous in sharing his research and resources with others. I will miss him and we must hope that his website will last, not only for our benefit, but also to honour him and his work.

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