HANDSOME SHAKESPEARE HEAD PRESS EDITION OF BEDE’S FAMOUS CHURCH HISTORY
BEDE. The History of the Church of Englande… Translated out of Latin into English by Thomas Stapleton. Oxford: Basil Blackwell (Shakespeare Head Press), 1930. Quarto, later full brown morocco, raised bands. $2250.
Beautiful 1930 private-press limited edition, one of only 475 copies, of Stapleton’s 1565 English translation of the Venerable Bede’s History of the Church of England, a valuable sourcebook for Medieval British history and regarded as “a classic among churchmen.” Printed in red and black and illustrated with the four “spirited woodcuts of the original edition” (re-engraved by John Farleigh) and a map of “Bede’s Britain.” Handsomely bound.
First published around 1473, Bede's history of the Church of England was the first work of its kind, a fascinating Medieval sourcebook of early English history from the time of the Roman empire to the 8th century. It was so highly regarded that King Alfred had it translated into Old English for the instruction of his people, "as this book had become a kind of classic among churchmen" (R.H. Hodgkin). The five books contain the sending of the Roman mission and the foundation of the Church, the period of missionary activity and the establishment of Christianity throughout England, a description of the period of central organization, and the English Church as the founder of a missionary movement, drawing the Celtic Churches into conformity. This handsome edition of Bede was printed at the Shakespeare Head Press, from Stapleton's 1565 English translation. The Press was founded by Elizabethan scholar A.H. Bullen in 1904, with the "aim to produce a good edition of Shakespeare's works… In 1927 the press was acquired by a partnership, including Basil Blackwell, the Oxford bookseller. Bernard Newdigate was appointed as typographer and under his direction the press worked within the Morris tradition" (University of Glasgow).