Colin Davey decodes a curious image of an ape, which features on the frontispiece of the first book printed in English, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, which was translated and published by William Caxton. This lecture was recorded as part of the Late Summer Lecture Series.
In the Huntington Library’s copy of the first book printed in English is a unique woodcut frontispiece. In what may perhaps be the only contemporary portrait of William Caxton, England’s first printer, a kneeling author hands two substantial volumes to a standing woman.
The woman is Margaret of York, the king of England’s sister and recently married duchess of Burgundy, Caxton’s patroness; the volumes are the first English printed book, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye. Caxton maintained Margaret had been instrumental in encouraging his translation of this French romance. Easily overlooked, mediating between the merchant and the lady, mirroring…
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