First book printed in English


First English printed book


  • Intro

    William Caxton was the first Englishman to learn to use a printing press. The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye was his first printed book, and the first book printed anywhere in English. It was produced in 1473 on the Continent, in either Bruges or Ghent. The text is a recuyell (compilation) of stories about the Trojan Wars by Raoul Lefèvre, originally written in French. The translation was also by Caxton.



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    Here Caxton introduces his book to the reader. The typeface is inspired by the Gothic or black letter script, common across northern Europe. The sets of type were designed for languages such as Middle Dutch which did not use the traditional English letters yogh, eth (ð) and thorn (þ). This may explain why Caxton uses g and th in their place. Spelling is often inconsistent, such as frensshe and frenshe, or sayd and said.


    Raoul Lefèvre (translated by William Caxton), The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, 1473. 

    Shelfmark: C.11.c.1.

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