On this page:
A Letter to an Imaginarie Friend (1862)
Epistyll to ane Imagenarie Frende (1523)
The literary work presented on this site is, in fact, something much greater than merely a dream, it is an oasis — indeed, a river flowing out to a veritable ocean — which lies much further beyond the mirage which it might seemingly appear to be. It is an ode to Love and Friendship which has transcended the centuries, harkening from these virtual pages that you see here before you, back through the Victorian age, the Age of Enlightenment; then beyond that much, much further still, reaching out to the Renaissance and the birth of the printed word; and beyond even that to a time and place unknown, a mystery as timeless as Love and Friendship has always and ever been.
This published love letter first made its appearance in contemporary English in the year 1862, in an obscure little volume transliterated by John Koster from the original Middle English text of his ancestor (see below), which had been printed almost three-and-a-half centuries earlier. With modernized text, yet still retaining the original work’s woodcut illustrations, only three copies of this delightful later edition remain in existence.
Three Surviving Copies
of John Koster’s 1862 transliteration,
available as desktop wallpaper in both standard and widescreen versions
(opens in new window)
Of much greater historical interest, of course, is the original 1523 text of Koster’s forefather. Written in the late-Middle English style of spelling (and pronunciation) of that period, the dating of this work presents itself to us as one of the earliest examples of a book printed with moveable type in the English language. Sadly, however, it now exists only in a single, fragmented form — merely loose pages detached from any binding, of which no other copies are known to have survived. This near-incunabulum was itself a translation into English by the venerable alchemist, mystic and scribe known as Roanalde Kosterius (often referred to simply as Kosterius), from letters written by an unknown author, composed to his unknown lover, mysteriously yet again in an unspecified language.
Or so the legend goes...
Was it all just my — and your — imagination???
View the Pages of the Original
Epistyll to ane Imagenarie Frende
(also available for download at higher resolution
in Adobe Acrobat® PDF format, below)
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Last Revision: September 28th, 2010 (1.4 MB)
For more information on the Epistyll, see above.
A companion to the Epistyll to ane Imagenarie Frende is an orthography of all the words used in the original 1523 text. Compiled contemporaneously with the original publication for the use of typesetters (and, inadvertently, for the benefit of future generations), the only surviving copy of this reference was discovered along with the Epistyll by the original author’s descendant, John Koster, who then dutifully transliterated each word into modernized spellings and typographic rules in preparation for the 1862 edition of his predecessor’s work.
Download the Orthographie
Last Revision: February 14th, 2009 (450k)
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