London: John Cawood, John Walley, and Richarde Tottle, 1557. First edition. Bound in a late 18th century or early 19th century full calf binding. Boards ruled in gilt and blind and decoratively blindstamped. Modern rebacking with four raised bands, gilt title and stamping in the spine compartments. All edges of page block gilt with elaborate gauffering. Black letter, text generally in double-column. Folio (pages 260 x 190 mm), collates complete: [18 leaves of preliminaries, including the title and blank leaf], 1458, [lacking final blank]. Collation as in Pforzheimer, including the inserted leaf between CC5 & 6. Title page with minor soiling and contemporary ownership marginalia (dated 1583), with occasional marginalia throughout in the same hand. Page 51 with the upper corner torn, affecting the first two lines of text (supplied in manuscript). Closed marginal tear to page 405, entering text, but no loss. Slight browning or soiling to the occasional leaf, but on the whole a very pleasing copy.
The first collected edition of More's works, edited by his nephew, William Rastell, who arranged the material in chronological order and added marginal notes. A massive volume that rarely turns up complete or in acceptable condition. The book, dedicated to Queen Mary, includes many of More's most controversial works, such as "A Dyalogue of Syr Thomas More, knt," which criticizes Tyndale, Luther and their followers. It also includes "A Dyalogue of Comforte Agaynste Tribulacyon," written during the earliest time of his imprisonment in the Tower of London following his refusal to condone Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon and thereby accept the English throne's supremacy over Papal authority. It is a work written for the comfort of his own family, advocating prayer in times of persecution.
Pforzheimer 743. (Item #1753)