BERNERS, Barnes or Bernes, JULIANA (b. 1388?), English writer on hawking and hunting, is said to have been prioress of Sopwell nunnery near St Albans, and daughter of Sir James Berners, who was beheaded in 1388. She was probably brought up at court, and when she adopted the religious life, she still retained her love of hawking, hunting and fishing, and her passion for field sports. The only documentary evidence regarding her, however, is the statement at the end of her treatise on hunting in the Boke of St Albans, "Explicit Dam Julyans Barnes in her boke of huntyng" (edition of 1486), and the name is changed by Wynkyn de Worde to "dame Julyans Bernes." There is no such person to be found in the pedigree of the Berners family, and there is a gap in the records of the priory of Sopwell between 1430 and 1480. Juliana Berners is the supposed author of the work generally known as the Boke of St Albans. The first and rarest edition was printed in 1486 by an unknown schoolmaster at St Albans. It has no title-page. Wynkyn de Worde's edition (fol. 1496), also without a title-page, begins: - "This present boke shewyth the manere of hawkynge and huntynge: and also of diuysynge of Cote armours. It shewyth also a good matere belongynge to horses: wyth other comendable treatyses. And ferdermore of the blasynge of armys: as hereafter it maye appere." This edition was adorned by three woodcuts, and included a "Treatyse of fysshynge wyth an Angle," not contained in the St Albans edition. J. Haslewood, who published a facsimile of that of Wynkyn de Worde (London, 1811, folio), with a biographical and bibliographical notice, examined with the greatest care the author's claims to figure as the earliest woman author in the English language. He assigned to her little else in the Boke except part of the treatise on hawking and the section on hunting. It is expressly stated at the end of the "Blasynge of Armys" that the section was "translatyd and compylyt," and it is likely that the other treatises are translations, probably from the French. An older form of the treatise on fishing was edited in 1883 by Mr T. Satchell from a MS. in possession of Mr A. Denison. This treatise probably dates from about 1450, and formed the foundation of that section in the book of 1496. Only three perfect copies of the first edition are known to exist. A facsimile, entitled The Book of St Albans, with an introduction by William Blades, appeared in 1881. During the 16th century the work was very popular, and was many times reprinted. It was edited by Gervase Markham in 1595 as The Gentleman's Academie.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)