About some Early Modern book's editions
of Martin Bodmer's collection





Locrine (1595)

The Bodmer copy of Locrine (1595) contains the following manuscript note on the title page: ‘Char. Tilney wrot[e a] Tragedy of this mattr [which] hee named Estrild [which] I think is this. it was [lost] by his death. & now s[ome] fellon hath published [it]. I made du[m]be shewes for it. w[hi]ch I yet haue. G. B.’. The author of this note, ‘G. B.’, has been identified as Sir George Buc, also spelled ‘Buck’ (1560-1622), who, as Master of the Revels from 1610, would have been responsible for ‘censoring plays for stage performance and selecting and arranging for entertainments at court’. Remarkable features of the 1595 Locrine that are independent of its title-page manuscript note are the play’s division into acts and scenes, and its type-size, which is english (the equivalent of our 13 point), not the usual pica (which corresponds to 12 point).


The Moral Philosophy of Doni (1601)

The Bodmer’s copy of The Moral Philosophy of Doni (STC 3054.5) is the sole surviving copy of this particular imprint. Unlike copies of STC 3054, printed in the same year, the copy at the Bodmer names the location of printer Simon Stafford’s premises on its title page: ‘Imprinted at London by Simon Stafford dwelling on Adling hill, neere Carter lane’. The presence of the bookplate of Henry Cunliffe (1826-1894) affirms that this is the same copy known to the STC, where it is listed as ‘untraced’.

Massachusetts Bible (1685)

John Eliot’s translation of the Bible into the Massachusett language was the first Bible to be published in colonial America. The Bodmer’s copy of the second edition, printed in 1685, survives in a contemporary leather binding. It lacks the dedication to Robert Boyle inserted after the title page in presentation copies sent abroad.




Leviathan (1651)

The Bodmer holds a first edition of Thomas Hobbes’ seminal work on the commonwealth. It contains the iconic frontispiece engraving of the Leviathan, and a fold-out table on ‘Consequences’. This copy also bears a contemporary signature at the head of the frontispiece: ‘Sum Edvardi Lloyd Martii 12 1690’.

Piers Plowman (1550)

This is one of three editions of the Middle English dream vision Piers Plowman to be printed by Robert Crowley in 1550, and which name the author as ‘Robert Langland’, rather than the William Langland currently assumed to have written the poem. In the Bodmer copy, the misprinted date of ‘1505’ has been cancelled with an ornament, though the correct date has not been added, as in other variants.