[CAXTON, William, c. 1422 - c. 1491]; HIGDEN, Ranulph
A leaf from William Caxton’s Polychronicon printed in 1482
Westminster : William Caxton, 1482. Single leaf, 274 x 206 mm, rubricated in red, marginalia in black ink; light soiling, else fine; framed.
A fine specimen leaf from England’s first printer, William Caxton.
Born in Kent some time between 1415 and 1424, Caxton resided in London in the mid-1430s where he was apprenticed to a cloth dealer, Robert Large. Around 1445 he moved to Bruges and became a successful businessman and diplomat for King Edward IV. He later settled in Cologne where he translated Lefevre’s Recuyell of the Histories of Troy, and, after learning the art of printing, published it as a book in 1473-74. This was the first book printed in the English language. Caxton returned to England and set up a printing press at Westminster in 1476, where he printed Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, the first book printed in England. Caxton went on to print over 100 early books, mostly in English, including Higden’s Polychronicon, a universal history of the world as known at the time.