Jessica Coatesworth1
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  • 1 University of Manchester
The Design of the Golden Legend: English Printing in a European Context
in Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
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The first 100 years of printing in Europe was a vibrant period full of innovation and adaptation. Continental printers controlled the production of Latin books, many of which were imported into England. English printers worked hard to create an audience for their editions and achieved,this by adopting specific design features from the Latin editions. Yet despite this connection, English printing is often studied in separation from European printing. This article studies the Golden Legend, a hagiographic text popular throughout England and Europe, and shows that the two traditions were interrelated, especially in book design. On the continent, printers found themselves in a crowded marketplace and some adopted established designs to target a particular audience. In contrast, English printers were inspired by the design of continental books. Design was governed by the intended audience but not restricted to national demarcations. Not only was English printing integrated with European printing, it sustained a distinctive character while remaining part of the European tradition.

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