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Saturday, 10 August 2019

William Caxton and the Introduction of Printing into England

With the advent of printing, books became easily available and cheap , and were spread far and wide. As the art of printing was widespread, books came to be freely circulated and proved to be the carriers of civilization. That happened in England, too, after the introduction of printing.
William Caxton
William Caxton

The introduction of printing into England was made by William Caxton, who set up his printing press at Westminster in 1576. This constitutes an important landmark in the literary growth in England. It is this process of printing, initiated by him, that has contributed much to the multiplication of the number of readers and the stabilization of the position of writers. Printing, in fact, is found instrumental to the expansion of literary activities and to the cultivation of literary standards and tastes. 

The first printed book in English is Recuyell of the Histories of Troy. Caxton's earliest productions in print include, among others, too, Lydgate's Temple of Glass, Life of Our Lady, Chaucer's The Parlement of Foules, The Hous of Fame, Troilus and Criseyde, Burgh's Little Cato and Trevisa's Polychronicon. Moreover, The Canterbury Tales, Confessio Amantis, Le Morte d' Arthur and the translations, like The Golden Legend, The Eneydos, Aesop's Fables, The Order of Chivalry, and so on, may be included in the catalogue of his production.

Caxton deserves a high commendation for his great venture that has served to enrich English literature, achieve immense popularity for it and establish a clear link between the literature of the past and that of the present. He should not be taken as a mere professional printer. He was a lover of literature who earnestly endeavoured to make books popular among all.

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