Early English Printing Found

William Caxton
William Caxton portrait from Library of Congress

For all the history fans out there, a librarian found what is thought to be from one of the oldest printed books created in England. The pages, found in a box in the University of Reading archive, are from a religious book originally printed by William Caxton in the late 1400s. The university press release has more detail on the pages and how they ended up where they were discovered.

Follow the links for some fascinating reading for history buffs and bibliophiles alike.

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Evolving Language

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From Library of Congress. Antonio da Rho, O.F.M., Tres Dialogi in Lactantium. (Three dialogues against Lactantius). In Latin. Parchment. Rome. Dedication copy for Pope Eugene IV. ca. 1450

The Oxford English Dictionary, or OED, has a blog about language that I usually find very interesting. I particularly liked this recent entry on how modern speakers change ancient languages. It’s an interesting look at communication between language and how time and technology have changed our perception of many terms and words.

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Shakespeare’s Contemporaries

Shakespeares Contemporaries
Folger Shakespeare Library photo from LUNA catalog used under CC-BY SA License.

 

The Folger Shakespeare Library has created a Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama to assist readers and researchers around the world. This is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in history, language, or theater will find much to learn and read in this set of resources.

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Literature and History: Jane Austen

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East front of the Wentworth Woodhouse from A Complete History of the County of York by Thomas Allen (1828-30) – public domain image

 

A recent statement from the British Chancellor of the Exchequer caused a bit of a history and literary kerfuffle. In the statement regarding financial aid for historical preservation, the Chancellor said that Wentworth Woodhouse was the inspiration for Jane Austen’s Pemberley in Pride and Prejudice. Almost immediately, the Jane Austen Society put out a statement that Austen had never seen Wentworth Woodhouse and so it couldn’t be the inspiration.

It looks like Jane Austen is still causing mischief and mayhem in the 21st century. And they say romance novels are ephemeral!

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English “Rules”

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As an editor, I am a bit of a “word nerd”. I find the history of words and phrases to be fascinating and can often lose myself in the Oxford English Dictionary’s online database for hours at a time reading about first usages and historical changes to meanings. This Book of the Day article in The Guardian reviewing How English Became English by Simon Horobin gives some good examples of the tidbits on usage that I always find interesting. I’ll definitely be reading How English Became English at some point in the future and recommend the OED database for anyone interested in fun facts about the English language. The database is available through many public and academic libraries.

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Historical Public Domain Images

 

The British Library posted over 1 million public domain images to Flickr. These images can be reused for free – although credit should always be given – and there are some great images in this collection. For authors of historical fiction and for cover designers, this could be a treasure trove of images for research and use.

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Historical Research Discoveries

What can you find when researching your novel? Well, if it is a historical novel, maybe you can find a book that Henry VIII used to form his argument to the Pope on ending his marriage to Catherine of Aragon.

Okay, it is a long shot but a Tudor scholar did actually find a book with margin notes from Henry (or at least one of his staff) in Cornwall. A Daily Mail article discusses the book and the historical nature of the find, for those like me with a historical bent.

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Elizabeth I’s Family Tree

My apologies for the lack of posts in the last couple weeks. I was injured and on some pretty strong pain killers that knocked me out and made me fuzzy. Postings should be back on a normal schedule going forward.

Since Elizabeth II became Britain’s longest reigning monarch this week, I thought I’d share this short video from the Folger Shakespeare Library on the current queen’s namesake, Elizabeth I. For anyone who is interested in history or genealogy, this look at a Tudor era family tree will be quite interesting.

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Love at First Sight vs. Growing Attraction Over Time

To end the Read a Romance Month postings at this blog, I thought I’d share this New York Times article on human attraction. The first paragraph of “For Couples, Time Can Upend the Laws of Attraction states, “After decades of studying the concept of “mate value,” social scientists finally have the data necessary to explain the romantic choices in “Knocked Up” and “Pride and Prejudice”.”

The article is interesting overall from a human behavior standpoint but I like that it explains the science behind romance novels that start with a pair of people who dislike each other but over time end up falling in love. I also love that the authors repeatedly references the most famous romance novel in the English language.

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Dickens Notes Solve Victorian Author Mysteries

For the history fans out there, The Independent has a fun story on how you never know exactly what you’ll get when you buy  old used books online. Charles Dickens edited a literary magazine at one point in his life and the magazine published the various contributions anonymously. Dickens kept a bound copy of the various issues of the magazine and made notes in the margins about who wrote what. A Dickens scholar ended up buying the set of volumes online only to find the notes inside when he opened them. It’s a fascinating glimpse into literary history and helps rewrite some famous bibliographies.

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