The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha


In 1829, the Spanish scholar and bibliographer Vicente Salvá determined that this book was the true editio princeps (first printed edition) of the first volume of El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha (The ingenious gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha). Until then, it had been considered a second edition, printed in the same year. Encouraged by the success of other fictional works, such as Mateo Alemán’s Guzmán de Alfarache (The life of Guzman de Alfarache), Francisco de Robles, printer to the king, bought the rights to publish Don Quixote. De Robles contracted Juan de la Cuesta, manager of the old printing press of Pedro Madrigal, to undertake the printing, which began in late September 1604, close to the date of the license to publish. Some copies of the book were even sold in Valladolid before they were made available in Madrid in January 1605. This edition is an example of the low-quality typography that characterized Spanish printing at the time. Considering the general level of printing and the speed with which the book was produced, it is not surprising that this edition has a large number of misprints and even typographical mistakes throughout the text. The great success of the work led de Robles to prepare a second edition, in which many of the mistakes were corrected. It is likely that Cervantes himself had a hand in some of the corrections, such as the one pertaining to the theft of Sancho's donkey. The author's involvement in the correction process adds to the importance of this second edition -- an importance not sufficiently recognized by many critics. A small number of the editio princeps have survived. This copy was given to the national library in Madrid in 1865 by a private donor, as recorded by Director Hartzenbusch in his annual report. The cover and the four preliminary pages were missing and were replaced by five color lithographs made by Lopez Fabra from the copy of the same book in the Royal Spanish Academy. The second volume of Don Quixote appeared in 1615, a decade after the first volume.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Juan de la Cuesta, Madrid


Title in Original Language

El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha


Type of Item

Physical Description

12 unnumbered pages, 312 pages, 8 sheets


  • Dedicated to the Duke of Bejar, Marquis of Gibraleon, Count of Benalcaçar y Bañares, Viscount of the Puebla de Alcozer, and Mayor of the towns of Capilla, Curiel, and Burguillos. Typographical design of Juan de la Cuesta on the cover.

Last updated: March 19, 2012