The Wicked Bible
Folger exhibitions draw primarily on Folger collections, but are often supplemented with items loaned from other libraries and museums. Most of the time the process goes smoothly, but every exhibition has its challenges. Manifold Greatness has had a few challenges, ranging from chasing down Bibles belonging to presidents and reggae musicians, to finding a pulpit and pew to put in the Great Hall. Then there’s the Wicked Bible…
Perhaps the most famous (or infamous) edition of the King James Bible is an edition from 1631 that has come to be known as the “Wicked Bible” due to a rather outrageous typo in the ten commandments. Instead of having “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” the Wicked Bible has “Thou shalt commit adultery.” Quite a difference! Even the King, Charles I, took notice and saw to it that the book’s printers, Robert Barker and Martin Lucas, were severely fined. Copies of the book were recalled and thus very few survive.
That very few copies survive made it a challenge for us to find one for the Folger exhibition. Finding a Wicked Bible turned out to be a rather wicked endeavor. After a few failed attempts, we finally found a copy with a willing lender: our partner in Manifold Greatness, the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford!
Steven Galbraith, Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Books, is co-curator of the Manifold Greatness exhibition at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
This entry was posted on July 28, 2011 by curatorsteve. It was filed under At the Folger, From the Curators, The KJB in History and was tagged with Authorized King James Version, Bible, Bodleian Library, Charles I, Folger Shakespeare Library, King James Bible, Martin Lucas, printer errors, printing errors, Robert Barker, Ten Commandments, University of Oxford, Wicked Bible.