There is a new text available in the Digital Text Library: “The Fabulous Natural History of the Middle Ages” by Thomas Wright. This text was originally published as a chapter in The Archaeological Album; or, Museum of National Antiquities (pages 174-186), London: Chapman & Hall, 1845. The complete book is available on Google Books.

This short article is a general introduction to natural history in the Middle Ages. It is of interest as an early example of the nineteenth-century scholarship on animals in the Middle Ages; it also has useful information on the unicorn, elephant and mandrake, as well as some images from manuscripts.

Fifteenth-century elephant
British Library, MS. Reg. 15 E. VI.

Thomas Wright was an English antiquarian and writer. He was born in 1810 near Ludlow, in Shropshire. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he graduated in 1834. In 1835 he came to London to begin a literary career. Over the next forty years Wright produced an extensive series of scholarly publications. He helped to found the British Archaeological Association and the Percy, Camden and Shakespeare societies. He was a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries (F. S. A.) as well as a member of many other learned British and foreign bodies. He died in 1877 at Chelsea, at the age of 67.

Another text edited by Wright is available in the Digital Text Library: The Bestiary of Philippe de Thaon, a transcription and translation of an Anglo-Norman bestiary of the twelfth century.