This piece of Wahrheit und Dichtung by Melchior Kirchhofer has pencil notes that might have been written by Josef Eiselein.
The Glosas Emilianenses are glosses added to this Latin codex that are considered the oldest surviving phrases written in the Castilian language.
A page from an illuminated manuscript with painted marginalia

Marginalia (or apostil) are scribbles, comments, and illuminations in the margins of a book.


Biblical manuscripts

Biblical manuscripts have liturgical notes at the margin, for liturgical use. Numbers of texts' divisions are given at the margin (κεφαλαια, Ammonian Sectins, Eusebian Canons). There are some scholia, corrections, and other notes usually made later by hand in the margin.


The scholia on classical manuscripts are the earliest known form of marginalia. Fermat's last theorem is the most famous mathmatical marginal note.[1]

The first recorded use of the word marginalia is in 1819 in Blackwood's Magazine.[2] From 1845 to 1849 Edgar Allan Poe titled some of his reflections and fragmentary material "Marginalia."[3] Five volumes of Samuel T. Coleridge's marginalia have been published.

Some famous marginalia were serious works, or drafts thereof, written in margins due to scarcity of paper. Voltaire composed in book margins while in prison, and Sir Walter Raleigh wrote a personal statement in margins just before his execution.

Beginning in the 1990s, attempts have been made to design and market e-book devices permitting a limited form of marginalia. In 2004, the Sony Librie EBR-1000EP was introduced with a tiny but full QWERTY keyboard below the display, to permit the creation of marginalia and bookmarks.[citation needed]


Marginalia can add or detract from the value of an association copy of a book, depending on the author of the marginalia and on the book.

Catherine C. Marshall, doing research on the future of the user interface, has studied the phenomenon of user annotation of texts. She discovered that in several university departments, knowledgeable students would scour the piles of textbooks at used book dealers for consistently annotated copies. The students had a good appreciation for their predecessors' distillation of knowledge.[4][5][6]

Writers Known for their marginalia


  1. ^ Singh, Simon (1997). Fermat's Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World's Greatest Mathematical Problem. Fourth Estate Ltd. ISBN 0385493622. 
  2. ^ "marginalia". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 2nd ed. 1989.
  3. ^ "Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Misc - Marginalia". Retrieved 2009-11-22. 
  4. ^ "Seeing the picture - Crowdsourcing annotations for books (and eBooks)". Blog. University of Iowa Libraries. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  5. ^ Cathy Marshall. "From Personal to Shared Annotations" (PDF). Texas A&M University. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  6. ^ "Social Annotations in Digital Library Collections". D-Lib Magazine. 1998-03-24. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  7. ^ "A Book I Value: Selected Marginalia — Samuel Taylor Coleridge". Princeton University. 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  8. ^ "Reading Markson Reading". 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  9. ^ "Melville Marginalia Online". Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  10. ^ Park Bucker (2003-12-11). "Princess Daisy: A Description of Sylvia Plath’s Copy of The Great Gatsby". University of South Carolina. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  11. ^ The Mark Twain House and Museum (2010-01-08). "Mark Twain's Marginalia". Retrieved 2011-07-03. 
  12. ^ "Harry Ransom Center". University of Texas. Retrieved 2011-07-03. 


  • Jackson, H. J. Marginalia: Readers writing in Books, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. ISBN 0-300-08816-7 N.B: one of the first books on this subject
  • Coleridge, S. T. Marginalia, Ed. George Walley and H. J. Jackson. The Collected works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge 12. Bolligen Series 75. 5 vols. Princeton University Press, 1980-.
  • Alston, R. C. Books with Manuscript: A short title catalogue of Books with Manuscript Notes in the British Library. London: British Library, 1994.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • marginalia — MARGINÁLIA s.f. Comentariu cu note şi însemnări privitoare la o operă (şi apărut într o publicaţie periodică). [pr.: li a] – Din lat., it. marginalia. Trimis de claudia, 01.10.2003. Sursa: DEX 98  marginália s. f. (sil. li a) Trimis de siveco,… …   Dicționar Român

  • marginalia — 1832, from L. marginalia, neuter plural of adjective marginalis marginal, from marginis (see MARGIN (Cf. margin)) …   Etymology dictionary

  • Marginalia — Mar gi*na li*a, n. pl. [NL.] Marginal notes. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • marginalia — I noun commentary, entry, footnote, inscription, notation, note, memorandum, record, register II index notation Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • marginalia — {{/stl 13}}{{stl 8}}rz. nmos, blp, D. marginalialiów {{/stl 8}}{{stl 20}} {{/stl 20}}{{stl 12}}1. {{/stl 12}}{{stl 7}} uwagi, notatki czytelnika na marginesie rękopisu lub druku; tytuły i podtytuły umieszczane na niezadrukowanych brzegach dawnych …   Langenscheidt Polski wyjaśnień

  • marginalia — ► PLURAL NOUN ▪ notes written or printed in the margin of a book or manuscript …   English terms dictionary

  • marginalia — [mär΄jə nā′lē ə, mär΄jənāl′yə] pl.n. [ModL < neut. pl. of ML marginalis] marginal notes …   English World dictionary

  • Marginalia — Les marginalia sont les notes écrites en marge d un codex ou manuscrit puis d un livre ou d une lettre. Par extension les enluminures en marge d une page. Sommaire 1 Historique 2 Notes et références 3 Annexes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Marginalia — Estas páginas de Wahrheit und Dichtung, libro de Melchior Kirchhofer, tienen notas que pueden haber sido escritas por Josef Eiselein …   Wikipedia Español

  • marginalia — noun plural Etymology: New Latin, from Medieval Latin, neuter plural of marginalis Date: 1832 1. marginal notes or embellishments (as in a book) 2. nonessential items < the meat and marginalia of American politics Saturday Review > …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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