English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton
University of Illinois Press | ISBN 9780252075537
Paperback – 224 pages
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"English in Print from Caxton to Shakespeare to Milton" examines the history of early English books, exploring the concept of putting the English language into print with close study of the texts, the formats, the audiences, and the functions of English books. Lavishly illustrated with more than 130 full-colour images of stunning rare books, this volume investigates a full range of issues regarding the dissemination of English language and culture through printed works, including the standardization of typography, grammar, and spelling; the appearance of popular literature; and, the development of school grammars and dictionaries. Valerie Hotchkiss and Fred C. Robinson provide engaging descriptions of more than a hundred early English books drawn from the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and the Elizabethan Club of Yale University. The study nearly mirrors the chronological parameters of Pollard and Redgrave's famous "English Short-Title Catalogue" (1475-1640), beginning with William Caxton, England's first printer, and ending with John Milton, the English language's most eloquent defender of the freedom of the press in his Areopagitica of 1644. William Shakespeare, neither a printer nor a writer much concerned with publishing his own plays, nonetheless deserves his central place in this study because Shakespeare imprints, and Renaissance drama in general, provide a fascinating window on the world of English printing in the period between Caxton and Milton.