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William Caxton (ca. 1415~1422 – ca. March 1492) was an English merchant, diplomat, writer and printer. He is thought to be the first English person to work as a printer and the first to introduce a printing press into England. He was also the first English retailer of printed books (his London contemporaries in the same trade were all Flemish, German or French).

He was making trips to Bruges by 1450 at the latest and had settled there by 1453, when he may have taken his Liberty of the Mercers' Company. There he was successful in business and became governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London. His trade brought him into contact with Duchy of Burgundy and it was thus that he became a member of the household of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy, the third wife of Charles the Bold and sister of two Kings of England, Edward IV and Richard III. This led to more continental travel, including travel to Cologne, in the course of which he observed the new printing industry, and was significantly influenced by German printing. He wasted no time in setting up a printing press in Bruges, in collaboration with a Fleming, Colard Mansion, and the first book to be printed in English was produced in 1473: Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, a translation by Caxton himself. His translation had become popular in the Burgundian court and requests for copies of it were the stimulus for him to set up a press. Bringing the knowledge back to England, he set up a press at Westminster in 1476 and the first book known to have been produced there was an edition of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales] (Blake, 2004–07). Another early title was Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres (Sayings of the Philosophers), first printed on 18 November 1477, translated by Earl Rivers, the king's brother-in-law. Caxton's translation of the Golden Legend, published in 1483, and The Book of the Knight in the Tower, published in 1484, contain perhaps the earliest verses of the Bible to be printed in English.


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