‘Thomaso Hoby Inglese’

Hoby recorded his purchase on one of the front flyleaves, rather than on the title page. The date at the top of the page indicates that the book was bought in 1550. The inscription near the foot of the page shows that it was bought in Venice. This information can be cross-referenced with Hoby’s travel journal, in which he records that in 1550 he ‘rested a day’ in Venice during a journey from central Italy to Augsburg. The signature has an appealing cross-linguistic status. Hoby has had a stab at Italianising his forename, but has then added the qualifier ‘Inglese’ (English) after his surname. In one signature he asserts his integration into Italian society but also his distance from it.

Dante Alighieri, La Comedia (Venice: Alessandro Vellutello, 1544), front flyleaf. St John’s College, Cambridge, Gg.8.38.  By permission of the Master and Fellows of St John’s College, Cambridge.

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