In 1484, William Caxton, the first publisher of English-language books, issued The Golden Legend, a translation of the most well-known collection of saints’ lives in Europe. This study analyzes the molding of the Legenda aurea into a book that powerfully attracted the English market. Modifications included not only illustrations and changes in the arrangement of chapters, but also the addition of lives of British saints and translated excerpts from the Bible, showing an appetite for vernacular scripture and stories about England’s past. The publication history of Caxton’s Golden Legend reveals attitudes towards national identity and piety within the context of English print culture during the half century prior to the Henrician Reformation.
Table of Contents
1. William Caxton and Devotional Literature
2. Caxton’s Golden Legend: The First Edition
3. Caxton’s Sources: The Legenda aurea, La Légende dorée, and the Gilte Legende
4. The Bible as Hagiography in Caxton’s Golden Legend
5. England and the British Isles in Caxton’s Golden Legend
6. The Late Fifteenth-Century Editions
7. Sixteenth-Century Editions
8. The Afterlife of The Golden Legend
Judy Ann Ford is Professor of History at Texas A&M University–Commerce, US. Her research interests include Medieval Europe, European Reformations, Popular Religion, and J. R. R. Tolkien.