The History of the World, in Five Bookes, by Sir Walter Ralegh, Knight

RALEIGH, Sir Walter (c. 1552-1618)

Published by William Stansby for Walter Burre, 1617
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London: William Stansby for Walter Burre, 1617 [frontis. dated 1614 as usual]. Colophon: "Printed by William Iaggard for Walter Burre, and are to be sold at his shop in Paules Church-yard at the signe of the Crane, 1617." Two separately paginated parts in one, folio (340 x 223mm). With 5 double-page copper-engraved maps and plans by William Hole (at pages 56, 108, 152, 218, 350, of the first part, and 270, 386, and 388, of the second part). Copper-engraved pictorial title page by Renold Elstrack depicting a female figure, inscribed ‘Magistra vitæ,’ supporting a globe depicting America, Europe and Africa in upper center; above globe, the all-seeing Eye, with the inscription ‘Providentia’; either side of globe, two winged figures blowing horns, one in white robe representing good and bad Fame, and other personifications including Truth and Experience, in lower center, a skeleton representing Death or ‘Mors’. Including Ben Jonson’s poem "The Minde of the Front" facing title, large engraved portrait vignette of Raleigh on title, (1), [16 leaves of preface], [14 leaves of contents], 1-184, 181-555, (1), 1-510, 515-669pp. [26, table]. Signatures: [-]2; A-B6; C4; a6; b8; A-S6; T-V4; 2A-2V, 3A-3V, 4A-4V, 5A-5Z, P, PP, *, all in sixes, and ** in eight. Woodcut ornamental initials, errata leaf at end. Contemporary calf, upper cover is affixed with morocco label gilt with arms of the Viscount Courtenay (quartered, and bearing, dexter chief and sinister base, three torteaux, and sinister chief and dexter base, rampant lions; surmounted by an Earl’s coronet, and a dolphin naiant as crest). The motto is, "Ubi lapsus. Quid feci." (Whither am I fallen? What have I done?). Very good, and the whole rebacked to style (only modern spine hinges slightly starting, interior completely bright with only some maps loose but present). Formerly in the possession of the Courtenay family, a family that enjoyed some esteem in Devonshire, and probably owned by their estate from the 18th-century onwards. 20th-century booklabel on front free-endpaper of George Armin Goyder (1908-1997) English businessman, social philosopher and book collector. Goyder was a serious collector and expert on the literature of the English Reformation and the works of William Blake. Increasingly rare second edition of Raleigh's History of the World, first published in 1614; Raleigh’s retelling of world history from Creation to the Roman ascendancy. Although there is no change in the frontispiece from the first, this work differs from its two predecessors in several important points mainly on the title page; by its headings and by the author portrait. Importantly, the portrait is the only one of Raleigh engraved and published during his lifetime. It contains his coat of arms, a shield of sixteen quarterings, with the motto, "Amore et Virtute." The portrait was evidently drawn especially for this work and is said to have won his stamp of approval. He was released from prison in 1616, and personally revised this 1617 edition, a much overlooked but interesting fact. The book was published after Raleigh’s first expedition to El Dorado when he was arrested for suspected involvement in the plot to remove King James I from the throne. He wrote this work during his stay in the Tower of London and dedicated it to Prince Henry, his main patron and supporter. He was beheaded in 1619. Given the precarious political situation and various restrictions on writing about contemporary history at the time, many writers used ancient history as a way to covertly discuss present-day issues. King James targeted the History on these grounds and months after the initial publication all sales were suppressed and unsold copies were confiscated. Despite this, Raleigh’s works, like many travel-authors, was popular amongst many audiences and the History was variously reprinted until 1736, in fact, a nearly identical edition to this one was reissued four years later in 1621. – T.N. Brushfield, A Bibliography of Si. Bookseller Inventory #

Bibliographic Details

Title: The History of the World, in Five Bookes, by...
Publisher: William Stansby for Walter Burre
Publication Date: 1617
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good
Edition: Second edition.

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