The Life of Aelfred the Great, by SPELMAN, John (1594-1643).HEARNE,…

SPELMAN, John (1594-1643).
HEARNE, Thomas, editor (1678-1735).

The Life of Aelfred the Great, by Sir John Spelman Kt. From the Original Manuscript in the Bodleian Library: with Considerable Additions, and Several Historical Remarks, by the Publisher Thomas Hearne, M.A. Oxford, at the Theatre for Maurice Atkins, 1709.

First Edition. 8vo, (192 x 115mm), engraved portrait frontispiece and pp. [vi], 238, [8] index, [1] addenda and emendanda, in contemporary plain panelled calf, upper joint slightly cracked, plain spine wanting the label, early ownership inscription crossed out on front paste-down, some browning in text but generally a pretty good copy.

An attractive copy in plain panelled calf of this important biography of King Alfred, first published here from the manuscript. Obadiah Walker had edited a Latin translation in 1678, but this edition, edited by Hearne, was taken from Spelman’s original at the Bodleian. It is Hearne’s own copious and scholarly notes that make this an important work. ‘Spelman’s Life of Alfred, a poor thing in itself, is memorable for its part in the Oxford-Cambridge controversy as to precedence... but it is memorable also as a testimony to the growth at Oxford of interest in the Old English language and our early chronicles’ (Carter).
Much controversy surrounded the publication of this work and Hearne writes at some length in his diary (II 179 ff) about Arthur Charlett’s attempts to prevent him publishing this edition. Apparently he believed that only a University College man should be permitted to attempt it, that being the college that King Alfred was said to have founded. As for Hearne, he was at St. Edmund Hall.

Carter, History of the OUP, pp. 112-113 and 457.

ESTC t147373.

Keywords: English Literature
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