London: John Kyngston for John Wight, 1561. First Thus. First edition by John Stowe and the fifth edition overall. Folio measuring 318 x 220mm bound in 17th century calf. Six raised bands and spine gilt in compartments; title label replaced to style and joints and corners expertly repaired. Nineteenth century endpapers. Contemporary ownership inscriptions of John Goldwell at the header of title and one erased below date on title. Ownership inscription of Samuel Oldham Lees, Corpus Christi Cambridge, 1858 and A. Oldham Lees, Caius College Cambridge 1890 to front endpaper. Manuscript glossary on rear endpaper. Minor restoration to the lower edge of several preliminary leaves not affecting text. A handsome copy of one of the most important literary works in the English language. Containing 22 woodcuts in the Prologue in addition to the woodcut of the Knight, Pforzheimer considers the present to be the first issue, stating that the woodcut blocks were used by Caxton in the second printing of his Canterbury Tales. While scholars are currently debating whether this, or the variant issue with the large woodcut of Chaucer's arms is the true first, the present issue remains the more scarce and desirable of the two.
A sumptuous collection of literature from one of England's greatest early masters. Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with setting the style of Middle English literature. He is often considered England’s first “poet laureate” – after he received a reward from Richard II for one of his poems. Although Chaucer is famous chiefly for his medieval-era masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, his works are also thought to have help make the English vernacular a poplar literary language. While famous in their own right, Chaucer's works have also influenced just about every major luminary of English literature to come after him.
Grolier 42. STC 5076. (Item #3250)