Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Friday, 5 June 2009 10:31 UK

Book collection available online

Gutenberg Bible
The Gutenberg Bible will be available to scholars all over the world

A copy of the Gutenberg Bible and the first printed edition of Homer's works are among ancient books being published online by Cambridge University Library.

The collection of pre-1501 printed books, known as incunabula, is being made available online thanks to a £300,000 grant.

Over the next five years the University library will produce detailed records for each item.

The books will then be able to be viewed by anyone around the world.

The Gutenberg Bible was the first book printed in Europe from moveable metal type in about 1455.

Legend has it the book was handed to the then librarian Alwyn Schofield out of the blue when an old man turned up at the library door saying he had an old bible to donate to the library.

The man turned out to be Arthur Young, retired lawyer and member of Trinity College.

The first printed edition of Homer's works was the first book to contain italic type.

Another book in the collection is a rare Book of Hours printed on vellum by William Caxton's successor, Wynkyn de Worde and is inscribed by Henry VIII's future wife, Catherine Parr and her family.

Medieval historian and author Professor Miri Rubin of Queen Mary, University of London, said: "These earliest printed books were the product of medieval craftsmanship but they also reflect new - often humanist - trends in learning and reading."

The money for the project has come from the Andrew W Mellon Foundation, a body which awards grants to higher education institutions.

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