Definition #296 Printing Press

Catherine Johnson's spine poem

Catherine Johnson’s spine poem

Spine Poem of Jeanne's Poetry Books

Spine Poem of Jeanne’s Poetry Books

It’s the birthday of the first man ever to print a book in English, William Caxton, born in Kent, England (1422). He was a wealthy trader and merchant, and also a part-time linguist and translator. He was living in Cologne, Germany, when he translated a book about the history of Troy.

The printing press had been invented about 25 years earlier, but it had only recently started to spread beyond Germany. Caxton realized that the new technology of printing would make the job of distributing his book a lot easier. So instead of copying the book by hand, he printed The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye in 1475.

He eventually went back to England, where he established the first English printing press. He printed all the available English literature, including Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (c. 1478). For a long time, people in England called printed books Caxtons.

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