Blog Posts : Early Printed Books

Librarian’s Pick #2: The Feminine Monarchie

Over the course of Trinity Term 2020, the library staff at St. John’s College will be taking you on a ‘tour’ of some of their favourites among our special collections. Every Monday, we will upload a new note on the item of the week. Read on to discover more about our chosen items…

“To delight and entertain”: Children’s Literature in the Special Collections

This blog post explores texts in our special collections written and created for children, and the ways in which this genre has evolved through the centuries. These items span from Ancient Greek stories and 17th century fatherly advice, to Victorian adventurers and mischievous modern poems. Links throughout the post willContinue reading ““To delight and entertain”: Children’s Literature in the Special Collections”

Words on Witchcraft

The late 16th and early 17th Centuries saw the peak of ‘witch hysteria’ in Europe. Paranoia surrounding ideas about sorcery and demons led to accusations, trials and cruel punishments, including tens of thousands of executions. This month’s blog post explores the literature that fuelled this phenomenon: as texts that condemenedContinue reading “Words on Witchcraft”

Scandinavia in the Special Collections

This month, we gather together a number of different items which share a northern theme: twentieth-century cartoons, seventeenth-century astronomy, nineteenth-century literature, sixteenth-century history, eighteenth-century exploration, and a seventeenth-century Bible. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus [Description of the Northern people], Olaus Magnus (1550) ∑.2.14 Olaus Magnus (1490-1557) was a Swedish writer andContinue reading “Scandinavia in the Special Collections”

Robert Hooke, Micrographia (1667), and Lectures and Collections (1678)

The works of Robert Hooke are well preserved at St John’s College Library with the library holding copies of 17th-century publications of Hooke’s work on microscopy, observations of comets, and the proposition of his eponymous law of elasticity. Robert Hooke (1635-1703) was renowned in his day for being an earlyContinue reading “Robert Hooke, Micrographia (1667), and Lectures and Collections (1678)”

Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe up-biblum God (the Massachusett Bible), 1661-1663

St John’s College library has a copy of the first Bible published in America. It is written in the Massachusett dialect of Algonquian, a Native American language which missionary John Eliot learnt in part of his attempt to convert the Massachusett people to Christianity and literacy. In 1663, in Cambridge,Continue reading “Mamusse wunneetupanatamwe up-biblum God (the Massachusett Bible), 1661-1663”

Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

In St John’s College Library’s Special Collections there are four copies of Ortelius’s world atlases. These were the first attempts at mapping the known world in its entirety which demonstrate a balance between striving for accurate cartography and presenting the wondrous elements of the distant world. Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) FromContinue reading “Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum”

Do we need pictures? Illustration of the earliest printed books.

St. John’s holds an important collection of incunables, i.e. books printed before 31st December 1501. The process of printing with movable type was invented around 1450 in Mainz by Johannes Gutenberg, as recorded by the Cologne Chronicle of 1499, a text which preserves the testimony of the first printer ofContinue reading “Do we need pictures? Illustration of the earliest printed books.”

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Westminster: William Caxton, c. 1483)

Early printed books form a significant part of the library’s Special Collections, and this particular item contains an illustrated second edition of one of the most famous works of middle English literature, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It is thought to have been published in 1483 by William Caxton, famous for beingContinue reading “Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales (Westminster: William Caxton, c. 1483)”

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