Short note on William Caxton-founder of printing press in England.

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enotechris eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Caxton (c.1422-1491) was a successful silk and woolen merchant, who headquartered in Belgium for nearly 30 years to effect his mercer trade.  He most likely learned the craft of printing while on a trip to Cologne around 1471, and after meeting printer Colard Mansion in Bruges, entered into a partnership with him for a few years.  One of the early books they printed was entitled The Game and Playe of Chesse, which had been translated from French.  By 1476 Caxton had returned to England and began to print on his own.  This first book he printed was The Dictes or sayengis of the philosophres in 1477. From then until he died in 1491, Caxton translated, edited and printed other's works in addition to printing his own; the most well known include The Historye of Reynart the Fox, Morte D'Aurthur, and Canterbury Tales. By the time of his death he had published 96 different works or editions of works, and had trained others in the art who became printers in their own right.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Caxton also lived in Bruges in Belgium.This is important because the city was very influential in the trading of wool - a highly prized commodity in society at this time.Here he prospered and became very well respected, helping to govern a society of other merchant adventurer traders. His position was sufficiently influential to allow him into  international diplomacy representing his king's interests. He became friendly with the King's sister who was a duchess (of Burgundy,France.) The duchess encouraged him in his writings. William Caxton lived for a time in Cologne also.Here he learned the mechanics of printing and then returned to Bruges to print the first English book - his own! (A translation of the histories of Troy.)

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

William Caxton was born in or around 1422.  His exact date of birth is not clear.  His place of birth was Kent in Southeastern England.

He was apprenticed out by his parents to a silk merchant when he was about 16.  When the merchant died, he was sent to Belgium where he soon set up in business on his own.  He did very well as a merchant.

Later, he came to be a part of the household of the duchess Margaret.  It was while in her employ that he learned about printing.

By 1476 he had moved back to England where he set up a print shop and became the first printer in that country.

He died in 1491 in London.

prafulla | Student

Caxton was the first printer of English speaking world.He not only published books but also translated some .His important publications are Dicts and Sayings of the Philospher,Le Morted arthur and Canterbury Tales.

Caxton printed four-fifths of his works in English. He translated a large amount of works into English. He translated and edited a large amount of the work himself.

However, the English language was changing rapidly in Caxton's time and the works he was given to print were in a variety of styles and dialects. Caxton was a technician rather than a writer and he often faced dilemmas concerning language standardisation in the books he printed. His successor Wynkyn de Worde faced similar problems.

Caxton is credited with standardising the English language through printing. This facilitated the expansion of English vocabulary, the development of inflection and syntax and the ever-widening gap between the spoken and the written word.

It is asserted that the spelling ghost with the silent letter h was adopted by Caxton due to the influence of Dutch spelling habit.

lit24 | Student

William Caxton was born around 1422 in Kent to Philip and Dionisia Caxton. He was first apprenticed to a London dealer of cloth around 1437-8. He then moved to Bruges where he became a very successful businessman which in turn led him to becoming a member of the household of Margaret, the Duchess of Burgundy the sister of the King of England.

In the course of his business travels he observed the progress made by the printing industry at Cologne. Along with his business partner Colard Mansion he set up a printing press at Bruges in which the first English book "Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye" was printed in the year 1473.

In 1476 he returned to England and set up the first printing press at Westminster. The first book supposed to have been printed in his printing press was an edition of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales.

Caxton died around the year 1492 and was buried at Westminster.

Caxton is credited with translating many European classics into English. However, his most important contribution is the standardizing of the English language by means of homogenizing the regional dialects  because of printing.

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The Canterbury Tales

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