The printing history of early English books may not seem like the most fascinating subject in the world, but if you mention the name William Caxton to a book historian, you may get a fascinating lecture nonetheless. Caxton, the merchant and diplomat who introduced the printing press to England in 1476, was an unusually enterprising figure. He first learned the trade in Cologne and was pressured to begin printing in English after the success of his translation of the Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, a series of stories based on Homer’s Iliad. His first known printed book was Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and he went on to print translations of classical and medieval texts from the French.
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