This book, the first to be printed in the English language 540-years ago, has sold at auction for more than £1m. Offered for sale by the Duke of Northumberland, it started with a guide price at Sotheby’s of £600,000 but 3 rival bidders pushed that up.
It is a version of The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, a French book written around 1463. William Caxton translated it which took three years and it was published around 1474, when most books were printed in Latin, in either Ghent or Bruges, Belgium. The Duke of Burgundy had commissioned the book for his new wife Margaret, sister of Edward IV. The story is an epic romance which portrays the heroes of Greek mythology as chivalric figures.
Caxton wrote in the epilogue. “In the writing of the same my pen is worn, mine hand weary and not steadfast, mine eyes dimmed with overmuch looking on the white paper”.