Item #69086 Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer. Geoffrey CHAUCER.
Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer
Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer
Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer
Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer
Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer
Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer

The 1561 Edition of Chaucer's Works, with the Rare and Important Caxton Woodcuts

STOWE, John.

Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer. newly printed, with divers addicions, whiche were never in printe before: With the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Jhon Lidgate, Monke of Berie. As in the table more plainly dooeth appere.

London: Imprinted by...Jhon Kyngston, for Jhon Wight, 1561.

. The Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer. newly printed, with divers addicions, whiche were never in printe before: With the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Jhon Lidgate, Monke of Berie. As in the table more plainly dooeth appere. London: Imprinted by...Jhon Kyngston, for Jhon Wight, 1561.

Full Description:

CHAUCER, Geoffrey. STOWE, John, [editor]. The Works [woorkes] of Geffrey Chaucer. newly printed, with divers addicions, whiche were never in printe before: With the siege and destruccion of the worthy citee of Thebes, compiled by Jhon Lidgate, Monke of Berie. As in the table more plainly dooeth appere. [London: Imprinted by...Jhon Kyngston, for Jhon Wight, 1561].

Fifth edition, second issue of Chaucer’s Works, the rare and important 1561 first Stowe edition, enhanced with the 22 wonderful Caxton woodcuts of of the first issue of the Pilgrims in the Prologue. This copy is the second issue with the title-page with the large woodcut of Chaucer’s arms, dated 1560, but with the first issue preliminary leaves (14 leaves before signature B) including the Prologue with 22 woodcuts from the blocks used by Caxton in his second edition of The Canterbury Tales which were probably inserted from a first issue.

Beautifully printed in two-column black-letter text, fifty-six lines. With woodcut on first page of the Knight’s Tale (the woodcut of the Knight is from the block used in the undated edition, circa 1550), divisional titles on A1 (“The Caunterburie tales”) and Aa1 (“The Romaunt of the Rose”) each within a broad woodcut border showing the genealogy of the Houses of York and Lancaster down to Henry VIII (McKerrow and Ferguson 75), and decrative, intricate, woodcut initials and tailpieces throughout. Folio in sixes (12 3/8 x 8 1/2 inches; 215 x 315 mm). [4], [10], 1-232, 232, 232-235, 242-243, 246, 243-245, 241, 241-337, 340-344, [347]-378 leaves. Although there are many jumps in foliation, this copy is complete and matches that of the Phforzheimer copy.

Early full calf, rebacked and recornered. Boards are double-ruled in blind. Spine with early red morocco spine labels, lettered and dated in gilt. Boards a bit rubbed and bumped. Newer endpapers. Title-page is a bit frayed and backed. The first four leaves with some repair to top and fore-edge margins. The bottom margin of the ten leaves of the illustrated Prologue trimmed about an eighth-inch shorter, not affecting text. These leaves also have a few tiny worm holes. Minor dampstaining occasionally to top margin and a bit more to the final ten leaves. Leaf 257 with a repaired closed tear at bottom margin, just touching one letter. Occasionally the top margin is trimmed close, barely touching headline. Final three leaves with some repairs along margins and a few letters of headline supplied in facsimile. Two previous owner's bookplates on front pastedown. A bit of old ink marginalia sporadically throughout. Still an outstanding complete copy of this rare and important 16th-century edition. House in a custom full morocco clamshell.

This is the rare fifth edition of the Works. “This [1561 edition] is doubtless the Chaucer that was studied by Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser and at least leafed through by the young Shakespeare” (The Book of Geoffrey Chaucer, 24). With first issue preliminary leaves (14 leaves before signature B) including the Prologue with 22 woodcuts from the blocks used by Caxton in his second edition of The Canterbury Tales. In addition to The Caunterburie Tales, this edition includes The Romaunt of the Rose, Troilus and Creseide, Boecius de Consolacione, and The Testament of Love.

Editor John Stowe “was a London tailor. From 1560 on he devoted himself ‘to the search of our famous antiquities,’ and was an ardent book collector and copyist. His first publication was his Chaucer” (Hammond, 121-22).

“Chaucer’s characters live age after age. Every age is a Canterbury Pilgrimage; we all pass on, each sustaining one of these characters; nor can a child be born who is not one of these characters of Chaucer” (William Blake). Sir Walter Raleigh wrote, “It is difficult to pass over the name of Chaucer without marking the high pitch of perfection to which he brought the art of narration in verse... He was a great narrative artist, incomparably the greatest of an age that loved story-telling and knew nothing of the drama.” By anticipating the inward turn of character generally associated with the Renaissance and the Reformation, Chaucer influenced both the shape and direction of English literature. Shakespeare drew on the Wife of Bath and the Pardoner for such characters as Falstaff and Iago, Spenser called him the “pure well of English undefiled,” and the modern critic Harold Bloom suggests that “without such characters [as Chaucer created], there would be less life in literature, and less literature in life” (The Western Canon, 105-26).

In regards to the second, non-illustrated issue “Possibly because the blocks were so worn and archaic, the preliminary leaves were reprinted in the second issue without any illustrations. In that issue the title is not in a compartment but has a large woodcut of a Chaucer’s arms dated 1560” (Pforzheimer).

Grolier, Langland to Wither, 42. Pforzheimer 176. STC 5076.

HBS 69086.

$35,000.

Price: $35,000.00

Item #69086