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Famous Typos in Literature


The first printing of Kitchen Confidential states: “The bar was packed with monomaniacal wine aficionados, pouring over the 1,400-strong wine list like Talmudic scholars...”

They say to Err is human, and after researching this feature I would have to say that ‘they’ were correct. How many times have you been happily reading through a book only to trip over a hideous typographical error? It happens more than editors would care to admit and it drives some readers absolutely bananas. Myself, I don’t get too bent out of shape over typos; this is partly because I am such an unbelievably bad speller but it’s also because I really like accidental humour.

A rogue comma or an incorrectly chosen homonym can transform hum-drum into hilarious. Take the most famous typographic error in publishing history. The year was 1631 and Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, the royal printers in London, were tasked with printing a new issue of the King James Bible. The project should have been a triumph but for one pesky word. Their mistake was the simple omission of the word “not” in a single sentence, and it was to be a grave mistake indeed. The missing word was smack-dab in the middle of the seventh commandment, causing their edition to read “Thou shalt commit adultery”; and thus the Wicked Bible was born.

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