Printing in England

In the early 1470s, William Caxton (c. 1422–1491), a wealthy English merchant, diplomat, and man of letters became the financial backer of a short-lived printing partnership at Cologne in Germany. After managing the first printing house in Bruges (Belgium) for three years, he established the first English press at Westminster Abbey in 1476. There Caxton published such classics of English literature as Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (c. 1476) and Sir Thomas Malory’s Morte d’Arthur (1485). Caxton’s pioneering contributions as a publisher, translator, and editor made him one of the most important figures in the development of the English language. The three books exhibited in this section reflect Caxton’s importance as a publisher, printer, and translator.

  Bartholomaeus Anglicus, c. 1472 Voragine, Golden Legend, c. 1483 Bartholomaeus Anglicus, c. 1496