Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

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The ageless teacher of both adults and children, Aesop's fables was first printed in English by William Caxton in 1484. Our edition is based on a much later (and smaller) chapbook that was also printed in London. The printer's name is unknown, and the book is undated, but it was probably produced after 1790.

The text for this chapbook comes from a popular version of the fables published in a variety of editions during the eighteenth century: Aesop's Fables: with his Life, and Morals and Remarks. The 'Remarks', which follow after the moral, provide these fables with a simplistic gloss. The illustrations are also similar (although not identical) to the woodcuts in the full-sized book. We edited the text slightly for the eight fables we chose in order to suit Incline sensibilities, the illustrations, copied from the original chapbook are unchanged.

Very few copies of this scarce little book have been recorded. Because of their fragile nature, the few chapbooks that have survived are rarely seen or handled. The copy of Aesop's Fables in the collection at Chetham's has been digitised as part of 'The Ballad of Chetham's Library'. Funding for this project has helped photograph and catalogue many of the chapbooks and broadside ballads in the Library's holdings so that they can eventually be read online.

Our chapbook was made to be distributed as part of another facet of this project: a storytelling day at the Library, where stories adapted from chapbooks and ballads were told. Although it does not have the patina of age that makes the original so fragile, our small book was printed in much the same fashion as an eighteenth-century chapbook: individual letters of metal type, set in to words, inked and then pressed on to paper. It is almost as small as its prototype: 175 x 115 mm. For the fables we used 10 pt Monotype Joanna cast at the Effra Press. It was hand set by Graham before being printed on a grey Zerkall-Bütten paper. The 12-pages are illustrated with magnesium reproductions of the woodcuts taken from the original chapbook. Susana Sanchez-Gonzalez, the Chetham's Library project officer has written an introduction that has been printed on the back and inside pages of the illustrated grey card cover.

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