Category Archives: History

We Have NOT Come to Suck Your Blood

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What are the greatest parts about fall? The crisp smell of apples, the chill in the air, the colors of the leaves… and the somewhat spooky feeling all around us! Just kidding, that’s just near Halloween. But you must admit, there is something about this season that may inspire you to revisit some of Poe, of the gothic masters, or of our blog subject for today – Bram Stoker.

Stoker is, of course, best known for his novel Dracula - a tale of a blood-thirsty beast in love (classic), but who was he otherwise? Here are some facts that you probably didn’t know about this Irish author!

1. He was Irish. I realize I gave that away in the previous sentence, but still. Stoker was born in Dublin in 1847, and lived in the county of Dublin all his life, even attending Trinity College for his higher education. Though graduating with a degree in mathematics, he showed prominence in the humanities as the auditor of the College’s Historical Society and president of the University Philosophical Society.

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2. Interested in theater from a young age, Stoker became a theater critic for the Dublin Evening Mail early on. After writing a favorable review of Henry Irving’s Hamlet, he was invited to London to become his new friend Irving’s theater business manager at the Lyceum Theater.

3. Bram Stoker’s wife Florence Balcombe was a previous suitor of Oscar Wilde. It may be strange for me to be so impressed by this, but nevertheless…

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4. Stoker worked on several novels while managing the Lyceum, Dracula being one of his first. After its publication, the novel received quite a bit of literary and critical acclaim, but did not shoot him to fame, despite the fact that it is now a story known worldwide. There are over 200 films and over 1000 novels written about Dracula alone!

5. Most people assume that Vlad the Impaler was the inspiration for the character of Dracula. However, recent scholarship suggests that, though Stoker may have borrowed the somewhat gothic and creepy name from the historical Romanian, he most likely based more of the facts on his own ancestor, Manus O’Donnell – or Manus the Magnificent – an Irish clan leader.

6. Complications and vagueness around Stokers death has sparked all kinds of discussion in his fans – some say he died from another stroke (after living several years after his first), others say syphilis. Even others say he is not dead at all… but still walks along the living! (Only at night, of course.)

Bonus fact: Through his friend and employer Henry Irving, Stoker met two US Presidents – William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Crazy!

This fall we invite you to grab a cup of tea, cozy up next to the fire, and pick up a scary classic… we promise you will thank us for it!

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Happy Birthday to the Ever-Young Stephen Crane

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At the tender age of 28, author Stephen Crane succumbed to tuberculosis and passed away at a German health spa. Despite his young age, Crane had accomplished what many take several decades of adulthood to achieve – fame, success, scandal, sickness and health. He lived a full life and was not afraid of standing up for himself and for others. Let’s learn a bit more about this famed American author, shall we?

crane5Crane was born on November 1st, 1871 in Newark, New Jersey, the 14th child (of only 8 surviving children) to a clergyman and daughter of a clergyman. Crane began writing at an early age, and when he was eight years old he wrote his first surviving poem – “I’d Rather Have A-” – a poem about wanting a dog for Christmas! One year later he began formal schooling and completed two grades within a six week period. Throughout Crane’s education he was a slightly erratic student, if intelligent and somewhat popular. This could be put down to the fact that by the time Crane was a teen, quite a few members of his family (his father and siblings) were dead – leading to a very different childhood than his classmates.

Crane was interested in baseball, the military, and writing. After enrolling in college under an engineering degree, he eventually left at the age of 20, declaring college a waste of time! He moved in with his older brother Edmund in New Jersey, but made frequent trips into The Bowery slums of New York City where he found human nature to be open and unaffected. He entered into a brief relationship with a married woman and wrote some controversial free-lance work on local events – beginning to make a name for himself solely out of scandal. In the next two years, after moving to New York, Crane worked on what would become his first novel, A Girl of the Streets (the Maggie would be added later). The novel about the girl who becomes a prostitute out of pitiable circumstances unfortunately needed to be self-published privately by Crane himself. He printed 1,100 copies and spent $869 to do so. Despite Maggie receiving praise for its truthful account of life in the slums, it did not garner the enthusiasm or scandal that Crane hoped for and he ended up giving away the last hundred copies for free. 

stephen crane 3In 1893 Crane became frustrated with stories written about the Civil War, stating “I wonder that some of those fellows don’t tell how they felt in those scraps. They spout enough of what they did, but they’re as emotionless as rocks.” Crane decided to write an account of a soldier in the war, and began work on what would become The Red Badge of Courage, Crane’s most beloved work to date. His story would be different from his contemporaries – for he wanted desperately to present a “psychological portrayal of fear” by describing a young man disillusioned by the harsh truths of war. He succeeded and a year later his novel began to be published in serial form by the Bacheller-Johnson Newspaper Syndicate. It was heavily edited for publication in the serial, though it did begin to cause a stir in its readers. Crane then worked on a book of poetry, which was published to large amounts of criticism due to his use of free verse, not then a common convention. Crane was not bothered by its unpopular reception – he was instead quite pleased that the book made “some stir” and caused a reaction of any sort. In 1895 Appleton published The Red Badge of Courage, the full chapters, in book form – and Crane became a household name overnight. The book was in the “top six on various bestseller lists around the country” for months after its publication. It even became popular abroad and was widely read in Great Britain as well. Crane was only 23 years old at the start of his fame. 

At 24, Crane was involved in a scandal that shaped his reputation for life. While accompanying two young ladies home in the evening, one of the ladies was arrested by an undercover policeman on charges of attempted prostitution. The woman was charged and Crane remained adamant that the ladies he was with were innocent – leading the world to remark on his Courage at standing by the alleged prostitute. The praise for Crane quickly turned sour, however, when the arrested lady pressed charges against the policeman that solicited her and Crane was called on to be a witness. Police of New York wrecked havoc on Crane’s life when he was targeted by the Defense – they sought to portray him as immoral and a frequent visitor of brothels and drug addicted – Crane’s courageous reputation was stripped quite quickly. Crane escaped to Cuba to work as a war correspondent at the age of 25. While awaiting his trip to Cuba in Jacksonville, Florida, Crane met the slightly older brothel owner Cora Taylor and began a relationship with her. However, after a few months Crane was granted travel to Cuba on the SS Commodore and he left Cora to travel. After only 2 days on the Commodore, the ship struck ground twice and began to sink. Crane and other men on the vessel boarded a 10-foot dinghy and attempted for days to land the boat on Daytona Beach. The waves were large and the boat eventually overturned and the men swam to shore. Cora traveled to Daytona to bring the weary Crane back, and eventually Crane would recount the event in his famous story “The Open Boat”, published in 1897. 

stephen crane 1Crane became a war correspondent alongside Taylor in the Greek-Turkish War of 1897, and then the Spanish-American War in 1898. Unfortunately for Crane this year was the beginning of the end, as his health worsened and none of his work ever sold as well as The Red Badge of Courage. He was a few thousand dollars in debt and worked writing feverishly to try to support both him and Taylor, who was living in England. He moved to England in January of 1899, writing for literary magazines there, but his health rapidly declined and by June of 1900 he was in a health spa in Germany, dictating his work to Taylor. He passed away from tuberculosis the same month, and left all of his work and livelihood to Taylor. Despite dying at such a young age, Crane, whose work was re-birthed in the 1980s after suffering a spell of unpopularity, is now taught in high schools across the country, as his most famous work is recognized as a highly naturalistic and realistic view of war through the eyes of a young American. Happy Birthday to Stephen Crane! 

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(SPOILER ALERT) Antiquarian Nursing Material Isn’t Just for Nurses

We recently wrote a short and sweet blog post on “Why You Should Be Collecting Antiquarian Cookery.” Now, we do enjoy getting Cookery items in and we do have quite a bit of knowledge around them, but technically speaking, cookery is not one of our ‘specialties’. However… Nursing is. We often have customers exclaim surprise at our little-known specialty, followed by a slightly confused look as to why we might carry such things. You yourself might be wondering how many nurses are also antiquarian book collectors. We must confess that we do not know those numbers. (However, if you know those numbers, please feel free to share.) So for this week’s blog post we thought we would share why you don’t have to be a nurse to collect antiquarian nursing material!

Before you remind us, yes, Vic began collecting nursing material because his wife, Ellen, was a head nurse! So yes, occasionally there are nurses involved. Just thought we would get that over with before we get any “Wait up, we know that Ellen was involved in that field…” emails. However, Vic knowingly went into the field, as he realized that there weren’t many out there specializing particularly in nursing material over a more generalized medical genre.

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Although the U.S. Army Medical Department was one of the slowest to integrate women, when over 5,000 of its combat-ready men — including many trained technicians and orderlies — were forced to transfer to the Infantry in early 1944, the department began a major push to recruit women to fill the positions. The Female Medical Technician campaign, as pictured here, was hugely successful. See this Fine condition WWII poster here.

Nursing material tells us about just as much of history as other items in the medical field. Nurses were often called upon to step in and help in times of war and devastation, and, in some instances, were in even higher demand than doctors. Antiquarian nursing material often teaches the reader (albeit briefly) the best ways to care for wounds, different illness, and even mental “defects”. They are particularly interesting as, despite what western medicine looks like today, many antiquarian nursing items were published before the heavy use of medication. Nursing materials can teach how to care to the sick without Advil – which many would argue is more important than knowing how to hand over a pill!

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Check out this 1804 1st US edition of FRIENDLY CAUTIONS To The HEADS Of FAMILIES And OTHERS, Very Necessary to be Observed in Order to PERSERVE HEALTH And LONG LIFE: with Ample Directions to NURSES WHO ATTEND The SICK” – a manual for nurses from over two centuries ago! See it here.

Antiquarian nursing items are therefore of interest to any of those looking to see cultural and scientific differences in levels and quality of medical care over the past two hundred years. It is also interesting to use the materials to see how nurses were trained, what they were trained in, and what they were called on to do. Now if you don’t find that interesting, then we don’t know what else to tell you!

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Check out this 1868 1st edition of “On Nurses and Nursing by Dr. Horatio Storer – a leading physician in the 19th century who, in 1857, started the “physicians’ crusade against abortion” both in Massachusetts and nationally, and persuaded the American Medical Association to form a Committee on Criminal Abortion. The Committee Report was presented at the AMA meeting in Louisville, Kentucky in 1859 and accepted by the Association. Woah! Check it out here.

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“Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too. They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”

We don’t often report on modern literature here at Tavistock Books, as that is not our speciality! However, you may have noticed that we occasionally like to branch out and discuss authors – specialty or not – in honor of their birth or death anniversary. We are happy to report to you good, book-fearing folk, that todays is a birth anniversary! Yay! We are not so pleased to report that book-fearing folk you really should be… since his work has been terrifying people since 1967. Be afraid… be very afraid.

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Stephen Edwin King was born on September 21st, 1947 in Portland, Maine. His father, stepping out for a pack of cigarettes when King was only two years old, never returned and King’s mother raised him and his brother on her own for the rest of his youth. King showed an early interest in the genre of horror, writing while still in school – winning himself a Scholastic Art and Writing Award and being published in different fanzines, such as “Stories of Suspense”, before the age of 20. King’s daughter was born the year he graduated from the University of Maine in 1970. Though he initially wished to teach high school, he was unable to find an immediate job and instead supplemented his income by selling stories to men’s magazines. Throughout this time, King nursed an alcohol dependency that would torment him for many years. 

In 1973, just three years out of University, King’s first novel, Carrie, was published. Fun fact: it is rumored that King initially found it so difficult to write about a teenage girl with psychic abilities that he threw out his original drafts! His wife, Tabitha (whom he is married to to this day), brought it back to him and almost forced him to finish it! His first advance on the novel got him $2,500. Imagine that, with how popular Carrie has remained over the years? Unfathomable!

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 9.39.39 PMKing then had his novel The Shining published in 1977, and The Stand in 1978. In the late 1970s King began a series, eventually known as The Dark Tower, a series which would span the next four decades of King’s life finally ending in 2004. In 1980 King’s novel Firestarter was published, and in 1983 his novel Christine was published – both by the large and well-known publisher Viking. He tried his hand at working on comic books, writing a bit for the X-men series Heroes for Hope in 1985. King published under several pseudonyms for various reasons (now keep a lookout for these names, you hear?) including Richard Bachman (after Bachman-Turner Overdrive), John Swithen (a character out of Carrie) and Beryl Evans (which King used to publish the book Charlie the Choo-Choo: From the World of the Dark Tower). Though he has written many, many works over the years (54 novels, 6 non-fiction books and 200 short stories, to put it bluntly), some of the more popular stories whose names you might recognize (due to their being transferred to the big screen or otherwise) are Children of the Corn (1977), Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redepmtion (1982), Misery (1987), The Man in the Black Suit (1994), The Green Mile (1996), Bag of Bones (1998), and his memoir On Writing (2000). And this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the volume of work King has produced over the past many decades.

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He has been heralded as both the most beloved horror and supernatural fiction author in the genre and also mocked for his writing as “pop” and not “serious” literature. Despite how you may view the genre, you must admit – the man has done more for those genres than many of his contemporaries! Give him some respect! (Especially on his birthday. And especially because if you don’t IT may come after you… Best play it safe, no?) 

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Vic Visits the Wine & Viticulture Collection of the UC Davis Shields Library

 

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Who has the greatest collection of wine & viticulture literature in the world?  The Shields Library at UC Davis, that’s who!  To quote the August 22nd BCC announcement of this 15 September field trip, “The wine library at UC Davis houses more than 30,000 books in more than 50 languages, manuscripts, historic records, research data, and materials in every medium, from wine labels to videos.”

IMG_3691Yours truly, along with 14 other BCC members, on our 9:30 arrival at the library, were greeted by Axel Borg, the library’s wine & food science bibliographer, and spent the next 4 and a half hours being regaled with all the treasures that this library has amassed over the years.  We started in the Maynard Amerine room, named after the man who exerted a profound influence on the collection.  Amerine [1911 - 1998] was a “pioneering researcher in the cultivation, fermentation, and sensory evaluation of wine.”  No doubt many of the booksellers & collectors reading this blog will hold one of publications, the 1996 BIBLIOGRAPHY On GRAPES, WINES, OTHER ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, And TEMPERANCE [co-authored by Axel by the way].

IMG_3698After giving us an overview of the collection, and its history, we eventually found our way to Special Collections, where Axel tantalized us with one interesting & fascinating item after another…  here I wish I’d taken notes, for memory fails me as to most specifics, other than the 1287 deed for a vineyard land transfer & a cute little accordion miniature that on first blush appears to be a wine cork.  That said, my fellow attendee, Anne Smith, did, however, take notes, so see her soon-to-be-published BCC piece for more specifics on the books Axel had at show-n-tell.

IMG_3731Next on the agenda was a buffet lunch, which, given we were a willing captive audience, included a presentation on projects UC Davis has in the works… one is a interactive social map showing wine-related connections.  Intriguing, to say the least.  Another is the digitization & searchable compilation of wine price lists, et al.  For food & drink historians, invaluable.

We ended the day in the Harrison Western Research Center, which holds more than 21,000 volumes related to the history of the Trans-Mississippi West, collected by Michael & Margaret Harrison.  Noteworthy in that collection were Catlin’s North American Indians, and Ansel Adams & Mary Austin’s Taos Pueblo.  I confess, the bookseller in me was covetous, but I also assure you, I left empty-handed.

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And so ended this engrossing trip.  My thanks to all the staff at the BCC & UC Davis who made this day possible.  It was wonderful.

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OTD in 1916 – Ernest H. Shackleton Rescues his Crew of the Endurance from a Year and a Half Ordeal on the Frozen Elephant Island

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What would be the roughest conditions you could see yourself surviving in? Deserted tropical island in a ‘Cast Away’ situation? Or what about lost in a forest with only a tent and a few cans of beans? I’ve got it! What about trapped in packed ice 720 nautical miles from civilization only to have your boat sink and then have to camp the rest of the time on the ice itself? Could you survive it? Personally, being from Florida, and though I like the occasional cold weather… I can imagine few ways of how I would die faster than being trapped on ice for a year and a half.

That being said, an entire group of men once did it. An explorer and his crew lived on packed ice for months and months… and then some traveled hundreds of miles for help and rescue. Ernest Shackleton is a name known by adventure enthusiasts, explorer aficionados and travel collectors across the world. 

shackleton1Ernest was born in February 1874 in County Kildare, Ireland – the first of two boys out of ten children in an Anglo-Irish family… and the son of a dreamer. When Ernest was six his father gave up his career as a landowner and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a doctor. He moved the family to Dublin in order to begin his studies at Trinity College. Once acquiring his degree, Henry Shackleton then moved his family to London when Ernest was 10. Shackleton was an avid reader, but a maddening student. He did not take to lessons so well, despite being able to finish at the top of his class several years, and was finally allowed to leave school at 16 to pursue the adventures he had dreamed of for years while reading travel books and thrilling adventure accounts. His father got him an apprenticeship on a sailing vessel, and the young Shackleton spent the next 8 years studying for different mariner tests, Second Mate, then First Mate, and ultimately Master Mariner (captain). 

In 1901, Shackleton took a job on the National Antarctic Expedition, also known as the Discovery Expedition (after the ship it was on… the Discovery) led by Robert Falcon Scott on a mission of scientific study and geographical mapping. The ship was strictly run, with Scott following Royal Naval protocol. Through this Shackleton discovered he preferred a slightly more casual and easy-going approach to management. The journey taught Shackleton much about leadership, and also about problems encountered on both water and land voyages, Shackleton himself at one point falling ill with scurvy. However, Shackleton was also one of the most popular members on board the ship, and though his weakened system at the end of his voyage with the Discovery was definitely cause for alarm and the reasoning behind him being sent home on a relief ship, there are those who contest that his undeniable popularity among the crew made Captain Scott jealous and he was sent home for resentful reasons. In any case, it was an invaluable learning experience for Shackleton. 

In 1908 Shackleton led his own Antarctic expedition, finally captain of his own ship, the Nimrod. He and a small crew climbed Mount Erebus (the first time ascent on record) and set a record for the closest anyone had ever been to the South Pole. He and his small expedition team almost met with starvation making their way back to the ship, with the ever-popular Shackleton giving up his own measly rations to another failing crew member, Frank Wild, who would later write about that moment in his diary, “All the money that was ever minted would not have bought that biscuit and the remembrance of that sacrifice will never leave me.” The grateful Wild would later become the second in command on Shackleton’s larger expedition in 1914. Upon his return to the UK after his experiences on the Nimrod, Shackleton was knighted and awarded a Gold Medal by the Royal Geographical Society. Fun fact: Shackleton and his crew left several cases of whiskey and brandy behind in the Antarctic in 1909, and the cases were found in 2010 and analyzed! “A revival of the vintage (and since lost) formula for the particular brands found [was] offered for sale with a portion of the proceeds [going] to benefit the New Zealand Antarctic Heritage Trust.” Awesome!

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After several years of public appearances and lectures, Shackleton was once more ready for a voyage in 1914. He titled his journey the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition”, and it would take 2 ships to either side of Antarctica so that he might cross part of the continent (1,800 miles of it) with a team of six other men. Shackleton received 5,000+ applications to join his crew, and in being selective on personality and disposition he selected 56 men to populate the two ships. Shackleton would be captaining the Endurance and the Aurora would meet him at the end of his journey across the ice. 

shackleton5The Endurance began it’s slow and hard journey through the Weddell Sea in early December, by mid-January becoming frozen in first year ice. Shackleton realized at the end of February that the boat would be stuck until the following spring (that October or thereabouts, as the seasons are backwards), as there was no hope for the ice to thaw in such conditions. Shackleton ordered the men to abandon the ship and begin setup of a camp on the packed ice, thankfully, as despite Shackleton’s hope that the boat would break free of the ice come spring and be able to continue sailing, the pressure put on the boat the following September from the breaking of the ice ended up sinking (albeit slowly) the then abandoned ship. For about two months Shackleton and his crew camped on flat ice floes, changing from floe to floe hoping one might drift them down to the inhabited Paulet Island. Unfortunately they were unable to reach it and using their lifeboats they were eventually able to make it to Elephant Island – that being the first time they had stood on dry land in over a year. Shackleton kept a watchful eye on all of his men, as usual, and in giving his mittens to his photographer Frank Hurley suffered from frostbite himself. 

shackleton3Shackleton then took five men and used a lifeboat to travel over 800 miles to a whaling station in South Georgia to get help. He would only pack four weeks of supplies into the lifeboat, knowing that if they could not reach their destination within a months time that they might as well consider themselves lost – he did not want to take supplies away from the men remaining on Elephant Island. Within 15 days they saw South Georgia, but inhospitable weather did not allow them to land immediately. When they were able to reach shore they had to pull up on the south side of the island, unfortunately knowing the whaling station was on the north side. Rather than get back in the lifeboat, three of the crew decided to attempt the journey across the mountainous land on foot – a distance of 32 miles (these guys couldn’t seem to catch a break, am I right?). They fastened screws into their boots to act as climbing shoes and had 50 feet of rope between the three of them. Not an easy journey… but they finally made it to the whaling station and got the help they needed. With the help of a Chilean vessel, Shackleton reached the rest of his 22 men on Elephant Island on the 30th of August, 1916 – 101 years ago today. After over a year and a half ordeal living on ice, every single man aboard the Endurance and under Shackleton’s command made it back alive. If Shackleton hadn’t already been considered a hero – he certainly was then!

Screen Shot 2017-08-30 at 9.33.04 AMToday we honor the bravery shown by Shackleton and his crew, and feel the gratefulness these men must have felt upon their rescue! And now, for a bit of antiquarian book world pleasure… check out this 1843 Dickens edition of Master Timothy’s Book-Case… previously owned by one Ernest H. Shackleton! Enjoy.

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That Other Printer You Ought To Know

William Caxton

Every single person reading this blog would (I hope) know the name “Gutenberg.” Right? Now here’s another major name in the printing world, perhaps not known by everyone… William Caxton. Maybe you know him, maybe you don’t. We aren’t here to judge your knowledge of the printing business. We’re just here to educate you! So sit back, relax, and learn something new.

caxton3William Caxton was born sometime during the years 1415-1424, which scholars have appropriated since his apprenticeship fees were paid in 1438. He grew up and was educated in the district of Kent, before leaving for London to be apprentice to Robert Large, a wealthy London dealer or luxury goods. Caxton made trips to Bruge after the death of Large in 1441, and eventually settled there in 1453. He was successful in his business as a merchant, and after becoming governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London he became a member of the household of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy and sister to two Kings of England! This was a fortuitous time in Caxton’s life, as due to his international travels for the Duchess’ household he observed the brand new printing press business in Germany (as the Gutenberg press had began in 1440) and immediately set up his own printing press in Bruge and within a few years produced the first book known to be printed in English, published in 1473 Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (“A Collection of the Histories of Troy” ) – a book of French courtly love translated by Caxton himself. (Fun antiquarian book world fact: only 18 copies of this printing still exist [kind of shocking there are even 18], and one sold by the Duke of Northumberland in 2014 and fetched over 1 million GBP.)

caxton4After his success with the printing in Bruge, Caxton brought his art back to England in 1476 and set up the country’s first ever press in a section of the Westminster Abbey Church. The first book printed in England itself was an edition of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Other early titles printed by Caxton included Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres translated by the king’s brother in law Earl Rivers, and Caxton’s own translations of the Golden Legend in 1483 and The Book of the Knight in the Tower. Caxton also printed the first ever English translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, as well as Le Morte d’Arthur.

[As you can probably already tell, if you didn't know the name Caxton that is:

a) shocking

b) embarrassing

c) all of the above

but in all reality, he is not as spoken of as Johannes Gutenberg and his press. So yes, Gutenberg is given big props for developing the early European movable type system, but why isn't Caxton's name also taught in schools?!]

caxton1Caxton’s death is recognized as taking place in 1491 or 1492, as that is when his work stopped being produced. He was succeeded by his Dutch employee Wynkyn de Worde, who is recognized for moving the printing of books in English away from an excitement enjoyed by the aristocrazy and nobility and toward the idea of printing for the masses. De Worde is often known as “England’s first typographer” and printed over 400 books in over 800 editions. Caxton, god bless him, printed 108 books of 87 different titles. However, Caxton did much of his translating himself, working on an honest desire to provide the best translation possible to his customers. Despite the fact that de Worde is known for standardizing the English language (as there were, at that time, so many different dialects and different spellings that it was often difficult to keep track), Caxton is absolutely also honored for beginning this process and though printing books of no remarkable or significant beauty, then at least for beginning the process of printing books in English at all!

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