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The Historie of the World. The Historie of the World.
The Historie of the World.
PLINIUS SECUNDUS, Gaius; Philemon Holland (trans.)

The Historie of the World....

Commonly called, the Naturall Historie … the first [-second] tome.

Availability: In stock

Published: London printed by Adam Islip, 1601

Stock Code: 108327

OR On display in 43 Dover Street


First edition in English, first issue, with the Islip imprint. Of this translation, Lowndes says "A work of immense labour, and what few men of his time could have executed in a superior manner to Dr Holland." "This encyclopaedia of ancient knowledge about the natural world had already had a great indirect influence in England, as elsewhere in Europe, but had not been translated into English before, and would not be again for 250 years. Indeed, after four centuries, Holland is still the only translator of this work to attempt to evoke its literary richness and beauty" (ODNB). The work was used as a source by Shakespeare for Othello and King Lear. "The importance of Pliny lay not so much that he was an inexhaustible source for monsters, eclipses, and the stranger habits of all created things, but that in the pages of Philemon Holland's translation Shakespeare found that emphasis on Nature which he employed and re-interpreted in the tragedy" (Evans, The Language of Shakespeare's Plays).
Pliny gives us by far the most detailed account of the coast of the United Arab Emirates that has come down to us from the classical era. Chapter 32 of Book 6 ( 149-152), beginning near the Qatar peninsula, proceeds to describe the Emirates islands, tribes, and coast right up to the Musandam peninsula, before continuing on south along the coast of Oman. As such, it is a mine of invaluable information on the UAE in the late pre-Islamic era. Pliny "completed his 'Natural History' in 77 CE and, to judge from his account of the peoples and places of south-eastern Arabia..., the area of the UAE was full of settlements, tribes, and physical features, the names of which he recorded for posterity" (Ghareeb/Al Abed 54).

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2 volumes, folio (318 x 210 mm). Contemporary red morocco, spines richly gilt, black morocco labels, sides with gilt-ruled border and frame with gilt-stamped floral motifs at outer corners, gilt edges. Housed in a burgundy flat back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Titles with woodcut allegorical device, woodcut head- and tailpieces, decorative initials, last leaf with errata on recto and colophon on verso.


Bookplates of the notable book collector John Dunn Gardner (1811-1903; known as John Townshend until 1843 and sometimes styled "Earl of Leicester"); the monogram bookplate of "DHP"; bookplate of the lawyer, banker and bibliophile Robert S. Pirie (1934-2015), acquired by him from Seven Gables book shop. Front joints cracking at ends and with old superficial repairs, first headcap chipped, a few abrasions and small stains on covers, minor marginal soiling with an occasional marginal spot, light dampstain in fore-margins of vol. 2 slightly affecting text, lacking first blank leaf in each volume, remains a most attractive copy in contemporary red morocco.


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