- Wynkyn de Worde
Wynkyn de Worde (also Wynken; originally Jan van Wynkyn) (d. 1534) was a printer and publisher known for his work with
William Caxton, and is recognized as the first to popularize the products of the printing press.
Life and work
De Worde was born in
Wœrthin Alsace; the name by which he is generally known means "Wynkyn of Wœrth." Traditionally, he was believed to have accompanied Caxton to Englandin 1476; more recently, it has been argued that de Worde actually arrived c. 1481, and that Caxton brought him to England to counter the competition of a second printer. (John Lettou set up a press in London in 1480.) De Worde improved the quality of Caxton's product; he was, in this view, "England's first typographer." [Haley, Allan. "Typographic Milestones." Hoboken, NJ, John Wiley & Sons, 1992; p. 15.] In 1495, following Caxton's death in 1491 and a three-year litigation, de Worde took over Caxton's print shop. [Hutmacher, William F. "Wynkyn de Worde and Chaucer's Canterbury Tales." Amsterdam, Rodopi, 1987; pp. 7-8.]
De Worde is generally credited for moving English printing away from its late-Medieval beginnings and toward a modern model of functioning. Caxton had depended on noble patrons to sustain his enterprise; while de Worde enjoyed the support of patrons too (principally Margaret Beaufort, mother of King Henry VII), he shifted his emphasis to the creation of relatively inexpensive books for a commercial audience and the beginnings of a mass market. Where Caxton had used paper imported from the Low Countries, de Worde exploited the product of John Tate, the first English papermaker. De Worde published more than 400 books in over 800 editions (though some are extant only in single copies and many others are extremely rare). His greatest success, in terms of volume, was the Latin grammar of Robert Whittington, which he issued in 155 editions. [Loewenstein, David, and Janel Mueller, eds. "The Cambridge History of Medieval English Literature." Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1999; pp. 86-7.] Religious works dominated his output, in keeping with the tenor of the time; but de Worde also printed volumes ranging from romantic novels to poetry (he published the work of
John Skeltonand Stephen Hawes), and from children's books to volumes on household practice and animal husbandry. He innovated in the use of illustrations: while only about 20 of Caxton's editions contained woodcuts, 500 of de Worde's editions were illustrated. [Loewenstein and Mueller, p. 88.]
He moved his firm from Caxton's location in Westminster to London; he was the first printer to set up a site on
Fleet Street(1500), which for centuries became synonymous with printing. He was also the first man to build a book stall in St. Paul's Churchyard, which soon became a center of the book trade in London. De Worde was the first to use italic type(1528) and Hebrewand Arabiccharacters (1524) in English books; and his 1495 version of "Polychronicon" by Ranulf Higdonwas the first English work to use movable typeto print music.
His name lives on via the "Wynkyn de Worde Society," founded in the United Kingdom in 1957 for "people dedicated to excellence in all aspects of printing and the various stages of its creation, production, finishing and dissemination."
Books printed by de Worde include:
Vitae Sanctorum Patrum"
Bartholomaeus de Proprietatibus Rerum" by John Trevisa
Dives and Pauper"
The Book of St. Albans"
The Canterbury Tales"
Contemplacyon of sinners" by William Touris
Beves of Hamtoun"
Guy of Warwick"
The Miracles of Our Lady"
The Rote or mirror of Consolation"
The Twelve profits of tribulation"
The Bowge of Court" by John Skelton
The History of the Three Kings of Cologne"
*"The Ship of Fools"
The World and the Child"
Wynkyn de Worde was the historical basis for the character William de Worde in the book "The Truth" by
* [http://www.wynkyndeworde.co.uk/ Wynkyn de Worde Society]
*N. F. Blake, [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29968 ‘Worde, Wynkyn de (d. 1534/5)’] , "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 12 Jan 2008
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