Tuesday, August 13, 2013

William Caxton printed first book in English

Caxton Showing the First Specimen of His Printing to King Edward IV at the Almonry,Westminster (1851)
It is the birthday, more or less, of Englishman William Caxton (c. 1422), who was the first English book publisher and bookseller in England. (Scholars don't really know when Caxton was born.) He published the first book in the English language, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Torye  (c. 1475),  a French romance novel that Caxton translated. Caxton printed it in the Flemish city of Bruges on the presses of Colard Mansion, a well-known calligrapher. In 1476, Caxton set up a press in Westminster. There he printed the first dated book in English, Dictes and Sayenges of the Phylosophers, on November 18, 1477. Caxton also printed Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (c. 1478) (and a second edition c. 1484), The Myrrour of the World (1481), an encyclopedia that was the first illustrated English book, John Gower's Confessio amanitas (1483), and Sir Thomas Malory's Morte D'arthur (1485). Caxton published about 100 books, some of them special commissions for wealthy merchants, nobles and kings.

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