Title-page of the 1611 first of Coryats Crudities. Hastily Gobbled up in Five Months Travel… sold for £7500 at Forum.

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Earlier works included a 1554 first of A Traictise… Provying that the Pretensed Marriage of Priestes, and Professed Persones, is No Mariage, but Altogether Unlawful… online at £4800.

Attributed on the title to Thomas Martin, but believed to be the work of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, it was a response to Bishop John Ponet’s Defence for Mariage of Priestes of 1549.

Wit’s wise idea

In a handsome but much later binding, a finely preserved and complete, 1611 first of Coryats Crudities. Hastily Gobbled up in Five Months Travel… in Europe sold for £7500.

Having left Oxford without a degree, Coryat (?1577-1617) first found fame as a wit and buffoon at the court of James I, but in 1608 he embarked on a five-month tour of Europe, travelling on foot, by horse and cart and by boat.

On his return he found it difficult to find a publisher for his journal, so appealed to everyone he knew to write commendatory verses about himself and the book.

Among those 60 contributors of mock heroic verses were Ben Jonson, John Donne, Inigo Jones, George Chapman and Michael Drayton.

The copy sold by Forum was once owned by George Steevens (1736- 1800), a friend of Samuel Johnson and a man whose great claim to fame lies in his extensive commentaries on the works of Shakespeare.

Reproduced top is William Hole’s splendid engraved title-page, one which features a portrait of Coryat and some fascinating vignettes recording incidents from his travels.

Incomparable work

Several books by female writers stood out – among them a 1664 first edition in a re-backed contemporary binding of Poems written “By the Incomparable Mrs K.P.”, as it says on the title-page.

This edition of verses by Katherine Phillips, also known as the ‘Matchless Orinda’, was apparently unauthorised and two of her friends, Sir Charles Cotterell and John Jeffreys, tried to persuade the publisher to suppress it.

As this rarity sold for £4500 proves, some copies evidently made it into circulation.

Poet, playwright, pioneer

Virginia Woolf once wrote: “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, which is, most scandalously but rather appropriately, in Westminster Abbey, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”

The Behn work offered in the Forum sale was The Young King: or, The Mistake, a play to be performed at the Duke’s Theatre, according to the title-page of a 1683 first in a modern Sangorski & Sutcliffe binding which sold at £5000 via

Forum’s catalogue notes also reminded us that Behn was a pioneering woman playwright, poet and writer of fiction, as well as a woman who at one time worked as a spy for Charles II in Antwerp.

All early editions of Hannah Woolley’s famous cookery book The Queen-Like Closet: or Rich Cabinet… are scarce, but the 1684, fifth edition is often regarded as the most desirable. As well as its culinary treats it also has a supplement offering medical recipes, advice on making coloured dyes, on writing letters, on parenting matters, etc.

In a later Bayntun binding the Forum copy sold online at £7500.