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Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie

Gutenberg's Apprentice

Historical Fiction   eBook Favourites   

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

A well written, informative book which we must assume is accurate. It traces the life of Peter Schoeffer whose foster father Johann Fust apprenticed Peter to Johann Gensfleisch (Gutenberg). Fust funded the development of the press and the printing of the first 180 Bibles. It took four years of hard work and internal fighting. We know the end result but along the way Fust and Gutenberg fell out, the money dried up and Peter was caught between the two men. However he went on to great things too, founding the publishing industry as we know it today and establishing the Frankfurt Book Fair. Fascinating.

If you like Alix Christie you might also like to read books by C J Sansom, Hilary Mantel and Peter Ackroyd.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Gutenberg's Apprentice by Alix Christie

In the middle of the 15th century, scribe Peter Schoeffer is dismayed to be instructed by his father to give up his beloved profession of illuminating texts in Paris. Instead he is to travel to Mainz in Germany to be apprenticed to Johann Gutenberg, an entrepreneur who has invented a new process for producing books - the printing press. Working in conditions of extreme secrecy, the men employed by Gutenberg daily face new challenges both artistic and physical as they strive to create the new books to the standard required by their master. In a time of huge turmoil in Europe and around the world, Gutenberg is relentless in pursuing his dream and wooing the powerful religious leaders whose support is critical. Peter's resistance to the project slowly dissolves as he sees that, with the guidance of a scribe such as himself, the new Bibles could be as beautiful in their way as the old. Today we can see that beauty in some of our museums, but few know the astonishing tale of ambition, ruthlessness and triumph that lies behind it.


'I loved this novel! Alix Christie's debut is intensely observed, so much that I felt in the dark rooms of history with the people laboring over the metal and words to bring us print, but also laboring over their own lives and love and survival'
Susan Straight

'Gorgeously written... An inspiring tale of ambition, camaraderie, betrayal, and cultural transformation based on actual events and people, this wonderful novel fully inhabits its age' * Booklist * 'Deftly chronicled ... Christie masterfully depicts the time and energy required to print the first Bibles... A bravura debut' * Kirkus * 'Deserves to be a bestseller - a great story, meticulously researched...fascinating' * Mark Easton * A lovely piece of work: finely researched and beautifully, atmospherically, written * Sarah Dunant * 'As beautifully written as the printed pages it describes, this is an intelligent, masterful novel that immerses the reader in a fascinating historical time and place'
Rosamund Lupton

'So rich and gorgeous it is making me dizzy'
Lucy Mangan If ever there were a historical novel with up

-to-the-minute resonance, this is it... Brilliantly-observed detail. Her characters are engaging, the world as beautifully crafted as one of Gutenberg's hot-metal letters, and the themes more relevant now than ever... Richly-imagined * Naomi Alderman * A deep, immersive recreation of a pivotal moment in history and a bold exploration of an eternal theme: the madness, rivalry, torment and ecstasy of creation -- A. D. Miller A lovely piece of work: finely researched and beautifully, atmospherically, written. I learned a huge amount from it, though never at any point did I feel I was being 'taught' - in my view the test of really good historical novel * Sarah Dunant * A sophisticated and moving story of the creation of the Gutenberg Bible... Christie provides a powerful portrait of the intense, irascible and egotistical Gutenberg, but her novel's real strength lies in its depiction of [his apprentice, Peter] Schoeffer, drawn unwillingly into the struggle to build a new technology, yet eventually becoming its most committed advocate * Sunday Times *

About the Author

Alix Christie is a journalist and writer based in London who has previously lived in the US, Paris and Berlin. She has been a reporter and foreign correspondent for many years, and published widely in major international media, currently for The Economist. She is a passionate printer and has researched the novel in detail over the last five years, bringing her personal experience to her descriptions of the travails of the early printers.

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Book Info

Publication date

23rd September 2014


Alix Christie

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Headline Review an imprint of Headline Publishing Group


400 pages


Historical Fiction
eBook Favourites

Historical fiction



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