William Caxton





In old days, books were not printed as they are now; they were written

by hand. This took a long time to do, so there were not many books, and

they were so dear that only the rich could buy them.



But after a time, some clever men made a machine, called a

printing-press, which could print letters.



About that time, an Englishman, named William Caxton, lived in Holland,

and copied books for a great lady. He says his hand grew tired with

writing, and his eyes became dim with much looking on white paper. So he

learned how to print, and had a printing-press made for himself, which

he brought to England. He set it up in a little shop in London, and then

he began to print books. He printed books of all sorts--tales, and

poetry, and history, and prayers, and sermons. In the time which it had

formerly taken him to write one book, he could now print thousands.



All sorts of people crowded to his shop to see Caxton's wonderful press;

sometimes the king went with his nobles. Many of them took written books

with them, which they wished to have put into print. Some people asked

Caxton to use in his books the most curious words he could find; others

wished him to print only old and homely words. Caxton liked best the

common, simple words which men used daily in their speech.



Caxton did a very good thing when he brought the printing-press to

England, for, after that, books became much cheaper, so that many people

could buy them, and learning spread in the land.





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