The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye

the selection of the fifteenth-century translation of Raoul Lefevre's history of Troy was an especially meaningful one for William Morris. This edition is a reprint of William Caxton's translation, which had found itself in great demand. Responding to that demand, Caxton set up a printing press in Bruges in 1473 and the Recuyell became the first book printed in the English language. This gave it something of a totemic status for English patriots. Morris was the first modern printer to completely reproduce Caxton's original translation, even at the cost of reproducing passges that were incorrect or mistranslated. This earned him praise from bibliophiles but dismay from philologists.

Morris began planning for this edition in 1890, a year before he opened the Kelmscott Press. It was set in two different Gothic typefaces, a larger face for the text known as Troy, and a smaller face for the table of contents and glossary known as Chaucer. These Gothic typefaces were crafted to preserve the look of the best 16th century books, while also being accessible to the modern reader. Although the 300 paper copies of the book were already quite expensive, Morris also printed an additional five luxury copies on vellum.

The Lear Center copy is bound in limp vellum with ties at the foreedge. It bears the bookplate of E. Hubert Litchfield, a noted collector of early printed books. His collection was sold by the Parke-Bernet Galleries in New York in 1951. The Recuyell was purchased for the Library with the Luchers Fund.

cover title page page one colophon
Litchfield Bookplate Title First Page Colophon