- Caxton, William
- (ca. 1422-1491)The first Englishman to practice the new art of printing. A native of Kent and a member of the Mercers' Company of London, he spent many years living abroad, chiefly at Bruges in the Netherlands. In 1470 he moved to Cologne and took charge of a printing firm. After printing several books there, he returned to Bruges and founded a new printing shop. About the end of 1473, he brought out the first book printed in English, a translation of a French historical romance, Recuyell of the Histories of Troy. In 1476 Caxton moved back to England and set up shop at Westminster, near the royal court. There he printed about a hundred titles, of which the most famous is the first edition of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (1477); but his products also included works of religious edification, English translations of lives of the saints (notably the Legenda aurea of Jacobus de Voragine), a book on chess, Aesop's Fables, and Reynard the Fox. At the very end of his life, he translated into English a book of the lives of the ancient Christian Desert Fathers, published by his successor Wynkyn de Worde.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.