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First English Bible could fetch £35,000 at auction

By Shernah Noah

Published 27/06/2015

A rare copy of the first Bible to be printed in English - bought by the current owner for 25 shillings - is going under the hammer
A rare copy of the first Bible to be printed in English - bought by the current owner for 25 shillings - is going under the hammer

A rare copy of the first Bible to be printed in English - bought by the current owner for 25 shillings - is going under the hammer.

The William Tyndale translation of the New Testament into English is expected to fetch around £35,000 at Sotheby's auction next month.

The anonymous owner bought the book after stumbling upon it in a second-hand shop in Cambridge during the 1960s, when he was a student.

After being arrested in Antwerp, Tyndale was executed as a heretic in 1536 and copies of the book that were discovered in Britain were burnt.

The edition for sale was printed in 1537, from Tyndale's first complete Bible printed in English in 1526. Henry VIII eventually ordered four English translations of the Bible to be published in England, less than four years after Tyndale's death by strangulation.

Peter Selly, senior specialist in books and manuscripts at Sotheby's, said: "It's a remarkable thing to see the common tongue being deployed in this way.

"It opens the Bible up for the first time, and a lot of these phrases would become embedded in the English language. It's not just the religious aspect, it's the contribution to the English language. A lot of people have said 'no Tyndale, no Shakespeare'."

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