11 - 13 July 2000
KNOLLES, Richard. The Generall Histories of the Turkes. London: Adam Islip, 1610.
2° (337 x 212mm). Engraved title by Johnson and 31 portraits in the text. (Lacks first and last leaves, both probably blank, a few small rust-holes, short tear in 5R2.) CONTEMPORARY GOLD-TOOLED RED GOATSKIN, flat spine divided into seven compartments, green lettering-piece in one, spine and sides otherwise covered with a semis of gilt stars, two double gilt fillet borders round sides separated at the corners by a gilt fleuron, gilt edges (head of spine chipped, lacks ties). Provenance: Bush Hall, 1818 (ink inscription on front pastedown); 'Evans July 2 1838. In the original morocco'; 'The presentation copy to King James, to whom it is dedicated' (pencil notes on front pastedown); Sir Robert Chester (armorial bookplate).
Second edition, revised by the author, of the greatest and most enduring English book on Turkey to appear in the 17th century, in an impressive contemporary goatskin binding. First published after twelve years of research in 1603, it went through another six editions until the last in 1701. It was much praised by Dr. Johnson who said of Knolles 'His style ... is pure, nervous, elevated, and clear' and Byron who wrote, shortly before his death at Missolonghi, 'Old Knolles was one of the first books that gave me pleasure when a child ... and gave me perhaps the oriental colouring which is observed in my poetry'. The work was dedicated to James I, but there is no clear evidence that this was the dedication copy beyond the claim on the pastedown. STC 15052; cf. Blackmer 919 (1603 edition).
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