Thys noble and joyous book entitled le morte Darthur…
Westminster: William Caxton, 31 July 1485
Purchased by Pierpont Morgan, 1911
Caxton, England's first printer, published about a hundred items at his shop in the precincts of Westminster Abbey, including first editions of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and Malory's Morte d'Arthur. Both books play an important role in the development of English literature, yet posterity has treated one more kindly than the other. Copies of the Canterbury Tales are comparatively accessible (albeit in various states of disrepair), but the Morte d'Arthur survives in only two copies, and only this one is complete. Anyone who studies the stories of King Arthur and wants to know about the text must consult the printed version along with the only known manuscript, discovered in 1934.