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Capital letter from Caxton manuscript

Ovid, 43 B.C. - 17 or 18 A.D.
The Metamorphases of Ovid; Translated by William Caxton, 1480. New York: G. Braziller, in association with Magdalene College, Cambridge, 1968. 2 Volumes.
Call Number: (SPL) PA 6522 .M2 C3 1968
Special Collections, Golda Meir Library

Illumination from Caxton manuscript

This is a facsimile edition of the only surviving copy of Caxton's translation of Ovid's Metamorphases completed in 1480. Broken into two pieces centuries ago, the manuscript was reunited in the twentieth century at Magdelene College, Cambridge.

Caxton translated many of his printed works from French editions, and there is no evidence to suggest he ever translated a text only to be used in manuscript form. Therefore, it is likely Caxton issued a printed edition of Metamorphases at about 1480, though no copies survive today.

This manuscript was most likely copied from Caxton's printed edition for a wealthy patron. It was intended to contain illuminations at the beginning of each book, though only the first four illuminations were completed before work on the manuscript was interrupted.


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Prepared by Christopher Barth, Virginia Haas, and Sarah McDaniel