AUB Libraries Online Exhibits

Early Arabic Printing in the United Kingdom


© British Library Board (200.a.21, pp. 5, 15).


Eutychii Aegyptii, patriarchae orthodoxorum Alexandrini, scriptoris, ut in oriente admodum vetusti ac illustris, ita in occidente tum paucissimis visi tum perraro auditi, Ecclesiae suae origines. Ex ejusdem Arabico nunc primum typis edidit ac versione & commentario auxit Ioannes Seldenus.

Eutychius Patriarch of Alexandria; Selden, John, ed. (1642). London: Excudebat Richardus Bishopus

 In the seventeenth century, there were two printing presses, one affiliated with the University of Oxford and the other with the University of London. Initially, the absence of engravers capable of melting the necessary stampers and Arab matrices seems to have led the Arabic teachers to print their books in Hebrew characters. Stampers and matrices were finally bought from Leiden[12] .Arabic printing in England did not start until late in 1642. The first English book printed in Arabic and Latin was published in London by John Selden. Befriended with Edward Pocock and with his help, Selden translated into Latin, edited and published some excerpts from Sa’id Ibn al-Batriq, the 10th Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria, 933 to 939. This brief part of the Annals in Arabic recounts the origins of the church of Alexandria since Marc, the evangelist.





© British Library Board (14549.b.2, p. 2).

لمع من أخبار العرب

Specimen historiae Arabum, sive, Gregorii Abul Farajii Malatiensis : de origine & moribus Arabum succincta narratio, in linguam Latinam conversa, notisque è probatisimis apud ipsos authoribus, fufiùs illustrata

Bar Hebraeus; Pococke, Edward (1650). Oxoniæ [Oxford]: H. Hall

 In 1650, Edward Pococke who was an english orientalist and Biblical scholar edited and published a short account of the origin and manners of the Arabs, taken from Gregory Bar Hebraeus (also known by his Latin name Abulfaragius or ibn al ˀIbri). Inaugurating a new stage in the study of Islam in Europe, a second edition of the same title was also published in 1806.



© British Library Board (148.c.15, pp. 1-3).

Specimen historiae Arabum: Accessit Historia veterum Arabum ex Abulfeda. 

Bar Hebraeus,  Pococke, Edward, Silvestre de Sacy, A. White, Joseph ed. and Abu al-Fida Isma`il ibn `Ali (1806). Oxonii [Oxford], typographeo Clarendoniano.

The book is divided into two parts: the first is a long excerpt from Barhebraeus’ Arabic text of the chronicle (which he will later publish in full), confronted with Pocock Latin translation; the second consists of Pocock’s notes, over 300 pages [13]




© British Library Board (570.f.25, pp. 2, 10).

Chorasmiæ et Mawaralnahræ: hoc est regionum extra fluvium Oxum, descriptio Abulfedæ Ismaelis, principis Hamah.

Abu al-Fida Isma`il ibn `Ali, Greaves, John (1650). Londini:  [publisher not identified]. 

The Astronomer, Jurist and Mathematician John Greaves, also became the friend of Selden and Pococke. In 1637, in his desire to discover the Orient, Greaves embarks with Pocock to Egypt through Constantinople. In 1650, he translates and edits a book written by Abu al –Fida, Kurdish Historian and local governor of Hama describing Khwarazm and behind the Amo-Daria river (historically known by its Latin name Oxus) the Turkestan.



© British Library Board (14549.b.3, p. 2,8).

Historia compendiosa dynastiarum= تاريخ مختصر الدول authore Gregorio Abul-Pharajio,... arabice edita et latine versa ab Eduardo Pocockio, Vol. 3 - Supplementum historiae dynastiarum... ab Edwardo Pocockio

Pococke, Edward (1663). Oxoniæ [Oxford]: H. Hall

Other books authored by Bar Hebraeus and translated/edited by Edward Pococke is the Historia compendiosa dynastiarum published in 3 volumes. At the end of the eighteenth century, Bucharest, Vienna, Moscow, Madrid and Lisbon contribute to the evolution of Arab printing. It is with Bonaparte’s expedition, the French Campaign in Egypt and Syria (1798–1801), that Paris provides Cairo with a complete set of Arabic typographical characters and material with Bonaparte’s expedition. Arabic printing spreads to the Levant Constantinople, and Choueir in Mount Lebanon.