Cambridge University Library

Exhibitions

Beauty and the Book

The 'Schoolmaster Printer' of St Albans

Dame Julianna Berners, Book of Hawking, Hunting and Heraldry, (St. Albans, Schoolmaster printer, 1486)
Inc.3.J.4.1[3636]

Just five years after the first English printed illustrations had appeared in Caxton’s Mirrour of the world, a book issued by the “Schoolmaster Printer” at St. Albans in 1486 contained the first example of English printed colour illustrations. These illustrations appear in the final part of the book, On the blasying of armys, which illustrates coats of arms. The book on hunting has a colophon that attributes authorship to Dame Juliana Berners, the prioress of a nunnery in Hertfordshire, and the entire work is often attributed to her. This book also holds the distinction of being the first book printed in English written by a woman, the first to include a list of collective nouns, and also the first list of recognised dog breeds. It is also known as The Book of St. Albans after its little-known printer.