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Gift Guide 02 | Early English Books

Curated by Oliver Yarwood
Gift Guide 02 | Early English Books

Embark on a curated exploration of rare Early English books with specialist Oliver Yarwood.
Gift Guide 02 | Early English Books
1. William SHAKESPEARE. The Works of Shakespeare: in Eight Volumes. London, 1740. £5,000

Everyone should own a Shakespeare, and this is such a sweet set, crisp and clean, with illustrations, in a contemporary binding.

2.[George GLEIG; Colin MACFARQUHAR (editors)]. Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Edinburgh, 1797-1803. £6,500

To me, the Encyclopaedia Britannica really symbolises the moment that Britain became a modern nation. This, the third edition marks the appearance of the text as we know and love it today, with twenty-two door-stopper sized volumes, and hundreds of illustrations.

3. Gervase MARKHAM. The Art of Archerie. London, 1634. £4,500

This is one of Markham’s scarcest titles, and reminds me that aversion to change has been a common theme throughout history. To Markham the poetry of the bow and arrow, and its association with the legendary English victories at Crécy and Agincourt a generation before, could never be outpaced by the advent gunpowder.

4. [HENRY CLEWS & CO.]. Private Telegraphic Code of Henry Clews & Co. New York,  [1908]. £450

This is such a great reminder of how ephemeral the technology we know and use today will one day become. A means to communicate through the language of a lost world.

5. Geoffrey CHAUCER. Canterbury Tales. New York, 1934. £500

I have always loved Chaucer, but the language he wrote in can often be inaccessible. This edition with illustrations by the American artist Rockwell Kent solves that issue by rendering Chaucer’s verse into modern English.

6. Edward GIBBON. The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. London, 1848. £2,500

Apparently, I’m always thinking about the Roman Empire… you can see why. Gibbon was such a brilliant writer, and his view that Rome’s fall was the 'natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness' still holds sway today.

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