Caxton's Histories of Troye to auction with $1.3m estimate on July 15

William Caxton's translation of The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye, the first book ever to be printed in English, is among the top lots at Sotheby's in London on July 15.

It's set to auction with a £600,000-800,000 ($1m-1.3m) estimate in the English Literature, History, Children's Books & Illustrations sale.

Caxton Sotheby's
Caxton published the translation in the late 15th century

The book dates to 1473-1474 and was originally written by the French writer Raoul Lefèvre. It's essentially a retelling of the history of the Trojan wars updated for the Burgundian court.

Caxton was a wealthy merchant and courtier who appears to have had minimal experience as a translator prior to taking on the task.

He writes in the prologue: "in the wrytyng of the same my penne is worn, myn hande wery & not stedfast myn eyen dimed with overmoche lokyng on the whit paper"

Burgundy was the centre of culture in Europe at the time, and Claxton shrewdly deduced that there would be an appetite for translations among English nobles keen to flaunt their bourgeois credentials.

The book is one of only 18 surviving examples; of which only two are complete (both are housed in the British and Morgan Libraries).

Check out our list of the five most valuable printed books here.

You can see all our books and manuscripts for sale here.

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