Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (also known as Actes and Monuments) is a three volume work of Christian history and “martyrology” written by John Foxe, and first published in 1554 in Latin, and later in English in 1563. The book details the lives and deaths of Christian martyrs from the early church up to the 1550s. The book, which was read devoutly by Puritans, played an important role in the battle between Catholicism and Protestantism taking place in Britain in the mid-to-late 16th century, and also helped to shape English and Scottish attitudes about Catholicism for centuries after.

The beautiful three-volume edition located in Special Collections in McCain Library was published in 1631. The book is significant not only for its role in religious and social history, but also for its illustrations, which were created with unique and intricate woodcut impressions. Considering the aims and goals of the book, the use of illustration takes on great significance in regard to the creators’ strategies of persuasion.

Foxe’s Book of Martyrs is found in the de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection (BR1600 .F6 1632-1631). The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1300 authors and illustrators as well as 160,000 + published books dating from 1530 to the present. Part of Special Collections, the de Grummond Collection is housed in the McCain Library and Archives on the campus of The University of Southern Mississippi.

If you are interested in viewing this or any other de Grummond materials, visit the 3rd floor of McCain Library or contact Ellen Ruffin at  or 601.266.4349. To see more Items of the Month, click here.

Text by Andrew Rhodes, Special Collections Specialist