Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Chronicles of England (St Albans: Schoolmaster Printer, [c. 1486?])

Chronicles of England

IIIF Drag-n-dropIIIF Manifest

The St Albans Chronicles was published around 1486; this volume should be regarded as the third edition, following Caxton's editions of 1480 and 1482. This edition is largely the same as Caxton's, but the printer of St Albans (commonly known as the Schoolmaster Printer) uses different manuscript sources in some parts. The major difference is in the inclusion of interpolated histories of popes and other ecclesiastical matters.

It has been conjectured that William Caxton and the St Albans printer had some contact with each other, because various Caxton types have been recognized in some of the latter's publications; however, any business relationship is speculative.

The extant publications of the St Albans schoolmaster indicate that he was in business for only seven years, from 1479 to 1486. Among the books he published, there are only two books in English. He is also known to have used the latest printing techniques, such as printing in multiple colours. Irrespective of his relative professionalism, he left a significant mark on the printing history of England: after Westminster and Oxford, St Albans was the third place in the country where movable type was used for printing.

The Keio copy is among the 20 extant copies of the St Albans Chronicles. Of the 290 leaves, 92 are missing (three of which are blank). Despite this defect, this is a valuable copy for modern scholars in that it provides evidence of the St Albans printer's technique. Wynkyn de Worde, the successor of Caxton, based his text on this edition when he published the Chronicles of England in 1497.

Blades, William, The Life and Typography of William Caxton, England's First Printer, 2 vols (1863; New York: B. Franklin, 1965)
Painter, George, William Caxton: A Quincentenary Biography of England's First Printer (London: Chatto and Windus, 1976)
Catalogue of Books Printed in the British Library, BMC, part XI:
England, ed. by Lotte Hellinga ('t Goy-Houten: Hes & De Graff, 2007)


(Translation from the revised Japanese version in Mostly British: Manuscripts and Early Printed Materials from Classical Rome to Renaissance England in the Collection of Keio University Library, ed. by Takami Matsuda (Tokyo: Keio University Press, 2001), p. 123)


Place of Publication
St. Albans
Schoolmaster Printer


Date of Publication
[c. 1486?]

Early 19th-century straight grain purple morocco with bevelled panel with crest, gilt ornaments in angles, gilt and blind tooled back, gilded edges.

Bibliographical Notes

198 leaves (of 290), beginning on d1 and ending on a fragment of I2; some intervening leaves missing; all the missing portion supplied in manuscript transcriptions; initial capitals and paragraph marks being printed in red; some annotations in contemporary and later hands.

Goff C479, HC 4997, GW 6672, IJL 109, IJL2 133, PP 15, T 26, MB 18
Acquisition Year