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Facts & Fictions: The Making of the Gutenberg Bible

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 6:00pm to 7:00pm
Reception to follow

Alix Christie

Facts & Fictions: The Making of the Gutenberg Bible

Books and the printed word have been central to the identity and mission of the Boston Athenæum since its founding in 1807. From examples of early printing such as Jakob Mennel’s 1518 “account of the ceremony in which Albrecht von Brandenburg was invested with the dignity of cardinal and Emperor Maximilian with a sword and hat blessed by Pope Leo” to the carefully crafted pages of books published by William Morris’ Kelmscott Press, the rare books collection at the Athenæum celebrates the history and artistry of books and book printing--none of which would have been possible without the work of Johann Gutenberg.

When the first printed pages of the Gutenberg Bible appeared in Frankfurt, Germany, in the autumn of 1454, few realized that this new technology would transform the world. Join journalist and printer Alix Christie as she presents her debut novel, Gutenberg's Apprentice. Drawing on a mountain of research, Christie presents a startling new picture of the Man of the Millennium and his accomplishments in medieval Mainz. The first printed book was not just the singular accomplishment of the lone genius Johann Gutenberg. It was the fruit of a largely unsung collaboration between three men known to their contemporaries as the "Holy Trinity" of printing: Gutenberg the inventor, his financier Johann Fust, and a little-known scribe named Peter Schoeffer who went on to become the world's first master printer and co-founder of the Frankfurt Book Fair. This historic partnership was the world's first tech startup, and like many a Silicon Valley tale, ended in both triumph and tragedy.

Alix Christie apprenticed to two master California printers and owns and operates a 1910 Chandler & Price letterpress. She is a veteran foreign correspondent who has reported for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Guardian of London, and the Washington Post, among many other publications. She earned a Master of Fine Arts in fiction from St Mary's College of California and currently lives in London, where she contributes book and art reviews to The Economist.

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