The Edition of Thomas Traherne's Works

Bird of paradise, from circle of Jan van Kessel, Study of Birds and Monkey
Select Meditations, III.65, Osborn MS


The Oxford Traherne is a 15-volume critical edition of the collected works of Thomas Traherne, commissioned by Oxford University Press, and under the general editorship of Dr Julia Smith.


As the first fully annotated edition of Traherne’s works, it will provide a comprehensive exposition of his complex relationship to the contemporary religious, political, and intellectual context, both local and national. It will also completely re-evaluate the canon, and re-assess all evidence for dating the works, drawing on new biographical research.


Textually the edition is dominated by the ten extant manuscripts of Traherne’s works, which provide the copy-texts for eleven of the 15 volumes. The edition presents each manuscript as an entity, basing editorial choices on a detailed consideration of the manuscript culture within which Traherne was working, and fully recording the evolution of the text.


The three volumes based on printed copy-texts will for the first time undertake full collation of Traherne’s early printed works, and a study of their printing and reception history.


This is an old-spelling edition, which also preserves significant features of the layout of both manuscripts and printed works. It presents a clean text, with textual notes at the foot of the page recording all editorial emendations, deletions and insertions in manuscripts, and variants in printed copy-texts.



  • Left image: Circle of Jan van Kessel, Study of Birds and Monkey, 1660–70, detail of bird of paradise: courtesy of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
  • Right image: Osborn MS b308, p. 149 (‘Select Meditations’, III.65): The James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University