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Early Modern English-Language Books


Book history (or "the history of the book") encompasses aspects of history, literature, languages, printing, illustration, and design, closely associated with the study of the development of writing. This includes study of various technologies used to preserve writing, from papyri through the rise of printed books in the Early Modern period and into the digital era. This guide includes information about English-language books from this period, including a comprehensive list of our hand press era imprints to suggestions about other institutions in Central Virginia with substantial holdings or expertise.

Book History at VCU Libraries

Bookplates and marbled endpapers

Irene, a tragedy by Samuel Johnson. (London: Dodsley, 1749)

Miniature book with tortoise shell binding and metal clasps

Seder tefilah, Hebrew prayer book (1709)


Annotations explain that Lauder's work was later discredited An Essay on Milton's Use and Imitation of the Moderns, in His Paradise lost., by William Lauder (London: J. Payne and J. Bouquet, in Pater-noster-Row, 1750)

Fore-edge painting

Gertrude of Wyoming, by Thomas Campbell (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1812)

Title page printed in red and black

Thomæ Willis medicinae doctoris ... Opera omnia ... (Genevae: Apud Samuelem de Tournes., 1680)

Anatomical illustrations

Engravings of the Arteries, by Sir Charles Bell (Philadelphia : A. Finley, 1816)


Illustrations of tarantulas, Georgii Baglivi ... Opera omnia medico-practica, et anatomica (Lugduni: Sumptibus Anisson & Joannis Posuel, 1714)


The Farrier's New Guide, (London: Longmans, 1738)