Myrrour of the worlde
Myrrour of the worlde is one of the first illustrated books printed in England. Produced by William Caxton, this second edition copy is one of only 19 remaining in the world. A translation of a 1464 French text, in turn derived from the Imago mundi and other Latin sources, it’s an introduction to the history of science covering geography, economics, music, cosmology, zoology, meteorology and astronomy. Caxton translated, edited and updated this work for an English audience. He published his first edition in 1481, and a second edition nine years later.
Myrrour of the worlde is printed in Gothic type and illustrated with 38 woodcuts. The illustrations depict a variety of scenes including a schoolmaster and pupils, a globe, a compass, a musician and singer, and the creation of Eve.
William Caxton (c1422-91) began his working life as an apprentice to a textile merchant. He later moved to Bruges where he established himself as a cloth merchant and diplomat on behalf of Edward IV. After spending a year in Cologne learning the art of printing, Caxton returned to Bruges where he set up a printing press and produced the first book to appear in English – a translation of Raoul le Fevre's Recuyell of the historyes of Troye.
In the autumn of 1476, Caxton returned to England and set up his printing press by the chapterhouse of Westminster. In 1477, this press produced the first dated book printed in England, Earl Rivers' translation of The Dictes or sayengis of the philosophres.
Other notable books from Caxton's press include The Canterbury tales, Troilus and Criseyde by Geoffrey Chaucer and Confessio Amantis by the poet John Gower. Caxton printed nearly 100 other works before his death in 1491, but fewer than 40 of his publications still exist.