Don Sebastian, title page

Follow the bookworm: a French copy of John Dryden’s Don Sebastian

By Chloé Favriou| The Université Rennes 2 special collection library holds a large number of books written in English. However, not all would necessarily be referred to as rare, as some books exist in many copies throughout the English-speaking world. But, it is unusual to come across such a large collection—about 2,000 books—in a French provincial […]

Statue of Robin Hood

The (Recycled) Tales of Robin Hood

By Chelsea Reutcke | Robin Hood, the legendary outlaw, has been a staple of English folklore since the mid-fifteenth century, with mentions of his name stretching back even earlier. Songs, books, radio, and movies have repeatedly recycled or expanded his story. Within the collection of The Codrington Library of All Souls College, Oxford, a different […]

Binding for Cicero's Letters

Saving Your Textbooks: Cicero’s importance to scholars of all ages

By Jamie Cumby | In 1578 a collection of Cicero’s letters was printed in Paris. As a new academic year begins, Preserving the World’s Rarest Books is highlighting a copy of this early modern educational book at Merton College Library in Oxford, one of our library partners (75.E.8(4)).  Gabriel Buon, printer of the edition, gave […]

Grafting Knives from the St Andrews copy

Piracy and Plants

By Nora Epstein | The English have long been known for their love of gardening, a pastime popular since at least the sixteenth century: if not longer, to judge from the number of surviving botany books. Leonard Mascall’s A Booke of the Arte and Manner how to Plant and Graffe all Sorts of Trees…(USTC 513190) […]

USTC 139280 A Catechism or Christian Doctrine, title page

A Catechism from the English Exiles in Rouen

By Chelsea Reutcke | Within the collection at Harvard’s Houghton Library, one of our Preserving the World’s Rarest Books partners, is a small devotional book from 1583 by Laurence Vaux entitled A Catechism or Christian Doctrine, Necessary for Children and Ignorant People (STC 24627, USTC 139280). At first glance, an English language catechism for children […]

The English Mercurie - title

The English Mercurie of 1588: the first (hoax) newspaper

By Arthur der Weduwen | In 1794, the Scottish antiquarian and political writer George Chalmers made a startling find. He had found proof that the first newspaper had been printed in London in 1588, decades before the emergence of newspapers elsewhere in Europe. It had been a chance discovery. Chalmers was composing a history of […]

First English Bibliography, detail

The First English Bibliography

By Graeme Kemp | Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Andrew Maunsell completed a novel project: the publication of a national bibliography of all English printed books. In a triple dedication, he humbly offered Elizabeth I his work as a remembrance of the advance in literature and print under her stewardship. Next, he commended […]