First Book Printed with Movable Type in English

William Caxton

William Caxton (Wikimedia Commons)

In 1473 or 1474, William Caxton printed the first book using movable type in the English language. “At the end of his Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye … Caxton wrote, ‘I have practised and earned at my great charge and dispense to ordain this said book in print after the manner and form as you may here see, and is not written with pen and ink as other books been, to the end that every man may have them at once.’”

“Caxton began his translation, as he tells us in his preface, in Bruges in 1468, and completed it in Cologne in 1471.” (Sotheby’s)

Read more about Caxton and the first books he printed, just 20 years after Gutenberg’s press set to work, on the British Library’s website.

Sotheby’s has a thorough article as well as a good look at the pages of the book.

Here’s a later edition of the book, in 1892, designed and typeset by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press. This one’s in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts.