Title: Original Letters, written during the Reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III, by various Persons of Rank or Consequence [...] with Notes, Historical and Explanatory; and Authenticated by Engravings of Autographs, Fac Similes, Paper-Marks and Seals.
Publication: London, printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1787, 1789, 1823.
Description: 5 vols. Vols. I-II second editions with additions and corrections, vols. III-V first editions. 4to., pp. lxxxvii, [i], 301, [i]; [iv], 363, [i]; [iv], xvi, xxxvi, 451, [i]; [vi], xxxii, 478, [ii]; lxxvi, 472 + all plates as called for, including some hand-coloured and 1 folding pedigree chart (repaired). Vol. I and III title-pages reinforced at fore-edge, vol. II plates quite foxed, a little occasional offsetting. Contemporary tan calf, skillfully rebacked in slightly lighter calf with blind tooling, gilt and red and black morocco labels to spines, corners repaired, endpapers sympathetically replaced. Armorial bookplate of the Earls of Dartrey (family name Dawson) relaid to each front paste-down. Bookplate of Adrian Bullock, Sheringham, Norfolk dated 1987 to each front and rear pastedown. Recent note transcribing Paston family gravestone inscriptions loosely inserted.
John Fenn's edition of the Paston Letters was the first printing of an invaluable collection shedding light on the life of an aristocratic family (the Pastons, later Earls of Yarmouth) in the fifteenth century. The editor obtained the documents from the executors of a chemist in Diss, Norfolk, and later presented the originals for vols. I to II to George III, receiving a knighthood soon after. His edition was nevertheless suspected for years to be forgery, until the material (including what he had given to the King) resurfaced in various country houses in the later nineteenth century. The fifth volume was sent to the press posthumously by Serjeant Frere, Fenn's nephew (Ency. Brit., 11th edn.)
Bibliography: Lowndes 788: "Two editions of Vols. 1 & 2 were printed in 1787, but there is no perceptible difference between them."
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