Boke of St Albans

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This English text was printed in the town of St Albans in 1486. According to Wynkyn de Worde, it was printed by "one sometyme Scholemaster of St. Albans" [1] but nothing further is definite. However, it is claimed that this book is the earliest example of colour printing in Britain.

It is divided into three sections

The hunting section ends "explcit dame Julyans Barnes in her boke of huntyng" [1]. This reference to the Lady Prioresse of Sopwell, a nearby nunnery, is the only clear indication of the one or more authors.

The book also included a number of previously unrecorded English collective nouns for animals and people [2],

e.g. a superfluity of nuns, a malapertness (impertinence in modern English) of pedlars, a drunkship of cobblers, a business of ferrets, and an unkindness of ravens

Quoted texts

(1) "The Mysteries of the Book of St. Albans" by Lord Liam O'Shea.

(2) "Flocks, Flights, Companies, and Coveys" by Susan Elkin in The Vocabula Review, January 2001, Vol. 3, No. 1.