The Workes of Geffray Chaucer

Newly Printed, with dyvers workes whiche were never in print before: as in the table more playnly dothe appere.

CHAUCER, Geoffrey


CHAUCER, Geoffrey The Workes of Geffray Chaucer Newly Printed, with dyvers workes whiche were never in print before: as in the table more playnly dothe appere.

Thomas Godfray, 1532.

First complete collected edition of Chaucer, containing the sixth printing of The Canterbury Tales. Folio (312 x 213 mm). Contemporary blind-tooled calf lifted from the original binding and relaid with spine rebacked to style (a pencilled note dates the repairs in 1946), the sides panelled with a stylised wheat sheaf roll and a decorative roll incorporating heads, the fore edges showing the marks where clasps and catches were formerly attached. 394 (of 397) leaves (A1–3 missing, being supplied in good quality facsimile). Black letter text in double columns. QQ3 cancelled as usual and replaced by four leaves incorporating Robert Henryson's Testament of Criseyde. Twenty woodcut illustrations from fifteen blocks in the Canterbury Tales section, other section titles within woodcut borders. Early ownership inscriptions of John Rappe, in French dated 8 June 1583, of Ro: Tirell (i.e. Tyrell) at head of The Canterbury Tales part-title and again at head of The Knight's Tale, and of Thomas Lanham at foot of the Troylus and Creseyde part-title. Some early underlines and contemporary marginalia throughout; the front free endpaper with pencilled note (in the hand of Lord Kenyon?) stating that the book was bought at the sale of Captain Walter Tyrell's books, Christie's 1891 and the modern bookplate of Robert S. Pirie.
Occassional minor marks or stains throughout with small paper extension at upper outer corner of A4 and lower outer corner of 3G5 and 3M6, not affecting text. Short marginal tears neatly closed not affecting text to some 19 leaves and paper repairs in lower margin of "2Q3".1, N1, 2S6 (with small loss of text) and 3B4; last leaf 3V6 with paper restoration at upper outer corner with loss of end of folio number and one letter of colophon. These repairs are mostly unobtrusive and affecting text in a couple of places only, the paper strong and generally clean, with good margins all round, overall an unusually well preserved copy.

The first attempt to collect into a single volume the complete writings of an English author. The Canterbury Tales alone had been first printed by Caxton, first without and then with woodcuts in c.1476 and c.1483 respectively, before Pynson attempted something like a collected edition in three separate publications of c.1526, but Godfray's publication "was the first attempt at a critical edition and for over 200 years provided the standard text of The Canterbury Tales" (Hayward).
The woodcuts which illustrate The Canterbury Tales were mainly cut for Caxton's 1483 edition, though the cuts of the Knight and Squire are copies from Pynson's 1526 edition.
The editor was William Thynne, Clerk of the Kitchen and of the Green Cloth to Henry VIII, and recipient of numerous grants and appointments. Thynne provides the first printed editions of a number of Chaucer's major works in verse and prose, including The Book of the Duchess, The Legend of Good Women, Boece, and The Treatise on the Astrolabe. He also printed a large number of works not by Chaucer, including poems by John Lydgate, Thomas Hoccleve, Richard Roos, and Robert Henryson, giving the volume an additional if accidental value as an early poetical miscellany. The introductory materials to the edition, which include the first life of Chaucer and a genealogy, are prefaced by an unsigned dedication to Henry VIII by Sir Brian Tuke, the king's secretary, arguing for the poet's pivotal role in the development of the English language.
The publisher Thomas Godfray was associated with some of the more radical propagandists of the Tudor revolution and Thynne's edition began a gradual process in the 16th century by which Chaucer was established both as the father of English poetry and claimed for the nation as a proto-Reformer, so that John Foxe the martyrologist would eventually acclaim him as "a right Wycliffian". In its care and attention lavished on primarily secular literature, it also provided the model for the folio editions of the Jacobean dramatists.
This copy is unusually complete; certainly much the most complete copy to have appeared in commerce in the past 40 years. The only other substantially complete copy in that period was the William Morris–Richard Bennett–Michael Tompkinson–Albert May Todd copy which lacked six leaves and a lower portion of a further leaf.

Stock ID: 34972


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