KINGS PRINTER’S LARGE PAPER COPY
The Historie of the Life and Death of Mary Stuart Queene of Scotland.
London, John Haviland for Richard Whitaker, 1624
FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. [xii], 250, [ii]. A⁶(±A3), B-2H⁴, 2I⁶. Roman and Italic letter, text within box rule. Fine engraved portrait of Mary as frontispiece within roundel, Mary’s arms above, signed: R: Elstrack, title within large woodcut border, epistle signed “Wil. Stranguage” [i.e. William Udall], “One of three imprint variants of this edition. In this state the dedication, with pseudonymous signature, is a cancel.” ESTC. “.Hadinton” in a contemporary hand on title. another autograph erased dated 1651 above, engraved armorial bookplate of Thomas Hamilton (1721-1794), 7th Earl of Haddington, on verso of t-p, contemporary inscription on fly erased, early shelf marks on t-p and and frontispiece. Light age yellowing, very rare spot or mark, t-p fractionally dusty in lower outer margin. A fine, large paper copy, crisp and clean in handsome contemporary calf, covers double gilt and blind ruled to a panel design, corners stopped with small gilt fleurons, gilt fleurons to corners of inner panel, arms of John Bill, Kings Printer at centres, spine blind ruled, slightly later morocco label gilt, edges gilt ruled, a.e.r. endpapers renewed, extremities slightly rubbed.
A remarkable, large paper copy bound with the arms of the Kings printer John Bill, almost certainly made for presentation; The University of Toronto, British Armorial Bindings, records two vols with John Bill’s armorial device, one of them being another copy of this work. At this late stage in his career John Bill was a hugely successful, influential and wealthy printer. “In the Jacobean period the King’s Printers were Robert Barker (1570–1645), and the two Shropshire men, Bonham Norton (1564–1635) and John Bill (1576–1630). At this time the office of the King’s Printer included the privilege to print the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in English. .… But the rights to the office of King’s Printer in English were in dispute, and Robert Barker, Bonham Norton and John Bill—who held the office either alone, or together in various partnerships from 1603–1645—fought bitter legal battles in the Court of Chancery for more than a decade to establish their rights to a share in the business. …. through John Bill’s good managing of the business (which drew in overseas investments through his Continental contacts) the office began to pay. These Continental contacts emerged from a joint-stock partnership which Bonham Norton, John Norton, and John Bill had set up in 1603. This long-running partnership, from 1603-1619 was designed to import continental books and stationary, and to produce books at home and abroad. It operated through an intricate web of book-trade contacts and markets, which John Bill was able to draw into the operation of the King’s Printing House. The KPH institutions extended their power as instruments of cultural production in Jacobean England. James’s desire to define a national culture and influence European thought through the printed word meant that the Salopian’s book-trading became as important culturally for the king as it was financially for the partners.” ‘A Brief History of the King’s Printing House (KPH) in the Jacobean Period’
Attractive principal edition of the classic early ‘Life’ of Mary, Queen of Scots and the author’s only printed work. Though drawn almost exclusively from the Latin history of the period by Camden (probably with Camden’s sanction), it achieved considerable popular success. Mary was one of the most attractive and fascinating figures of British history of the late C16th., and the establishment of her Stuart line on the throne of England of course heightened the interest of Englishmen in her life and unhappy fate. “Anticipating that his portraits of Elizabeth and Mary would met with objections, Camden appears to have opposed publishing his Annales in English during his lifetime. As evidence, historians usually point to Jame’s commission for Abraham Darcie’s translation, which was not printed until 1625, over a year after Camden’s death. Udall’s neglected ‘Historie of the Life and Death of Mary Stuart Queene of Scotland’ appeared even earlier, in 1624, evidence that James was getting what was for him the most significant part of the text out to the English public as soon as possible. Udall, who first published this book under the name ‘William Stranguage’ does not credit Camden as his source, and up through the nineteenth century, many, if not most, readers assumed Udall wrote it himself. Udall’s history popularises a version of Mary’s tragedy that argues for James’s legitimacy against those who might challenge him.”. By John D. Staines ‘The Tragic Histories of Mary Queen of Scots, 1560-1690.’
A stunning copy of this important work.
ESTC. S117760. STC 24509a. Pforzheimer I 123. Arber IV 158.