‘Printers of books were this time mightily multiplied... ’
Wynkyn de Worde, Chronicle of England, 1497
Moveable-type printing was invented by Johann Gutenberg (about 1400–68) in Germany in the mid-1400s. It was an event of enormous significance, and the new printing process brought books to a wider audience and at a price many could afford.
The first printing press in London was set up by the merchant William Caxton in 1476 within the precincts of Westminster Abbey, but soon other printers started presses near St Bride’s, Fleet Street – closer to their customers in the City. By 1500, the printers were part of a community of 300 employed in making and selling books, and London had become the leading centre of the book trade in England.