William Caxton, 1422-1491
Printer and translator, born in the Weald of Kent, was apprenticed to a London mercer. On his master’s death in 1441 he went to Bruges, and lived there and in various other places in the Low Countries for over 30 years, engaged apparently as head of an association of English merchants trading in foreign parts, and in negotiating commercial treaties between England and the Dukes of Burgundy.
His first literary labour was a translation of a French romance, which he entitled The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, and which he finished in 1471.
About this time he learned the art of printing, and, after being in the service of Margaret Duchess of Burgundy, an English princess, returned to his native country and set up at Westminster in 1476 his printing press, the first in England. His Recuyell and The Game and Playe of Chesse had already been printed — the first books in English — on the Continent. Here was produced the first book printed in England, The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers (1477). Caxton obtained Royal favour, printed from 80 to 100 separate works — many of them translations of his own — and died almost with pen in hand in 1491. His style is clear and idiomatic.
- The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye
- The Temple of Glass, by John Lydgate; printed by Caxton
- The Game of the Chesse
- The dictes and sayings of the philosophers: a facsimile reproduction of the first book printed in England by William Caxton in 1477 (1877)
- Godeffroy of Boloyne; or, The siege and conqueste of Jerusalem (1893)
- Blanchardyn and Eglantine c. 1489 (1890)
- Paris and Vienne. Thystorye of the noble ryght valyaunt and worthy knyght Parys, and of the fayr Vyenne, the daulphyns doughter of Vyennoys / translated by William Caxton (1868)
- A treatise spekynge of arte & crafte to knowe well to dye. Translated oute of Frenshe in to Englysshe, by Willm Caxton [Facsim. reprint, 1875]
- The right plesaunt and goodly historie of the foure sonnes of Aymon; Englisht from the French by William Caxton and printed by him about 1489 
- The book of curtesye: printed at Westminster by William Caxton about the year 1477 [Facsim. reprint, 1907]