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Bound for printing

On September 15, 1507, King James IV of Scotland granted the first licence to print to Walter Chepman, an Edinburgh merchant, and his business partner, a bookseller named Androw Myllar.

Next month will see the start of a series of events and initiatives commemorating the 500th anniversary of the first printed book with a definite publication date in Scotland John Lydgate's popular poem The Complaint of the Black Knight. It was printed on April 4, 1508 on a printing press in Edinburgh's Cowgate by Chepman and Myllar. The only known copy is in the National Library of Scotland, where it will form the centrepiece of a major exhibition in summer 2008.

However, the book for which the licence was granted was the more serious Aberdeen Breviary a service book containing Scottish church practices and lives of local saints, called after its compiler, William Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen (1431-1514).

The first commemorative event will be Bound for Glory, an exhibition about the history of bible printing, which will open at Napier University's Merchiston Campus in October. Future activities include printing trails in major printing centres such as Edinburgh, educational activities, printing workshops and open days at Scottish printing companies.

In 2008, the Scottish Text Society, in association with the National Library of Scotland will publish a CD-Rom of all the Chepman and Myllar works in the Library.

* www.nls.ukfirstscottishbooksindex.html

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