Conference Jottings

After Professor David Daniell's book launch of The Obedience of a Christian Man at the San Diego Conference in February a dear lady came over to me to explain her dilemma. She had intended to buy 2 signed copies but felt that it might not be appropriate in view of the rather unsuitable nature of Tyndale's title page reproduced on page xxxv. I must confess that at this stage I was clutching, rather than studying, my newly acquired copy. However, hoping to swiftly dispel her fears I turned to said page of the book and was, indeed, confronted with a rather bizarre illustration of the title page of the 1528 first edition. printed by Martin de Keyser in Antwerp, pseudonymously as 'Hans Luft or Marlburow'.

A little taken aback to find that she did have a point, I gazed at what appeared to be unclothed ladies everywhere - the three Graces performing a kind of ballet routine on the left and right hand sides of the page and a lady taking a luxurious bath in a fountain at the bottom of the page. Nonetheless, I persuaded her (I think!) that printers were really short of good illustrations in the early 16th century. The plates were costly and time consuming to make and, as a result, the printers merely used what came to hand without considering too deeply their relevance --slightly unfortunate in this particular case. I was reasonably smug about this rather knowledgeable answer but reasonably unable at the time to back it up with a solid example. Furthermore, quite subconsciously, my commercial streak had taken over--must sell another book!

Recently, when looking for illustrations for this Journal, I was astonished to find myself gazing at the very same title page. However. this time it was not The Obedience but Desiderius Erasmus's work An exhortation to the diligent studye of scripture - translated into ingliish. An exposition in to the seventh chaptre of the first pistle to the Corinthians published by Hans Luft of Marburg in 1529. This Luft was a pseudonym for Johannes Hillenius Hoochstraten of Antwerp[1] according to the book Antwerp, Dissident Typographical Centre 1994. Now I will be able to report hack to my enquirer with a concrete example.[2]

Thoroughly pleased with my find, I idly flicked through to see if this was merely an isolated example in a few seconds I discovered that the title raises William Tyndale's two works The fyrst boke of Moses and The practyse of prelates bore identical illustrations. Both stated that they were published in Marburg 1530, but actually again the real publisher, as for the Erasmus work, was Johannes Hoochstraten of Antwerp.
the 2 identical title pages

It would be interesting to know how many other identical (and unsuitable!) title pages appeared at tills time. No doubt, there is some learned tome or erudite thesis on the subject which will satisfactorily explain everything to me and my puzzled enquirer.

Valerie Offord, March 2000

References and Source of Illustrations

  1. David Daniell has pointed out in a private communication that Guido Latré has since identified Johannes hoochstraten as Tyndale's regular printer in Antwerp, Martin de Keyser.
  2. In the introduction to the Penguin Obedience, p. xxii, David Daniell writes that 'These rather shop-worn nymphs had already appeared round the titles of books in Germany as well as Antwerp, Catholic and and Protestant, and would go on to decorate the titles of others — seven in all'.

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