William Bowyer

(1663—1737) printer

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London printers, best known for producing scholarly books. William senior, who served his apprenticeship under Miles Flesher, was in business by 1699. His son was educated at Cambridge, where he learned Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, but did not take a degree, probably because of the family's nonjuring inclinations. Thus, the unusually learned William junior took over the job of proofreading when he joined the firm in 1722. The Bowyers printed the votes of the House of Commons from 1729, and bought, with the cooperation of Faulkner, significant copyrights of Irish writers such as Swift. William junior formed a partnership with his overseer James Emonson in 1754, but Bowyer’s unwillingness to share control meant that it was short-lived. He secured the right to print for the Royal Society in 1761, and in 1765 made a joint bid for the Cambridge University printing privileges. His former apprentice Nichols became junior partner the following year (equal partner in 1773). His Literary Anecdotes, along with the Bowyer archive, chart the history of this important printing firm.

From The Oxford Companion to the Book in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Bibliography.

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