ASCHAM, Roger.

The Scholemaster

Or plaine and perfite way of teachyng children, to understand, write, and speake the Latin tong, but specially purposed for the private brynging up of youth in Jentlemen and Noble mens houses, and commodious also for all such, as have forgot the Latin tonge, and would, by themselves, without a Scholemaster, in short tyme, and with small paines, recover a sufficient habilitie, to understand, write, and speake Latin.

London: printed by John Daye, 1570 Stock Code: 114919


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First edition of the most important Tudor work on education. Known for his beautiful handwriting, Roger Ascham (1514/15-1568) was appointed tutor to Princess Elizabeth in 1548, Latin Secretary to Queen Mary in 1553 and private tutor to Queen Elizabeth in 1558. The Scholemaster was written at the suggestion of Sir Richard Sackville following a debate over dinner with Sir William Cecil and others on the question of flogging children. Ascham was vehemently opposed to the practice.

Ascham was particularly influenced by the educational ideas of his long-time friend and correspondent, the Strasburg humanist Johann Sturm. The Scholemaster is divided into two books: the first describes the ideal tutor and scholar and draws heavily on Plato; the second treats the method of instruction by double translation using proper imitation of classical models, and draws equally heavily upon Cicero. The book remained unpublished at his death and was published by his widow Margaret, who signed the dedication.

"This book, which popularized the educational views of Renaissance Englishmen, has made Ascham famous among educational theorists, and one of the most influential of their number. He was concerned to rear an élite capable of assuming what he considered their proper place in serving the commonweal, and he wrote in English to guarantee as wide an audience as possible, thus opening up ideas previously hidden from those who knew no classical languages" (ODNB).

Provenance: Wyllyam Hardyan?, near contemporary inscription at foot of second leaf; old ink Latin inscription on title; Henry Cunliffe, bookplate; extensive notes on front free endpaper in a 19th-century hand; Sotheby's, 1946 (62); Scribner's collation note dated March 1949 on rear pastedown; Harold Greenhill and H. Bradley Martin, bookplates; Sotheby's New York, 30 April 1990, lot 2565.

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Small quarto (182 x 130 mm). Eighteenth-century polished calf, gilt panelled spine with raised bands, sides with double gilt fillet borders. Dark red goatskin pull-off case by Riviere-Mounteney with raised bands and gilt lettering.


Black letter, title within border of typographical ornaments, woodcut initials and typographical tailpieces, large woodcut printer's device on colophon leaf. Ruled in red throughout.


Occasional spots and some finger-soiling, a few headlines shaved, an excellent copy.


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