Monday 12 July 2021

"The Whole Scheme of the Book:" William Morris and the Kelmscott Press from McMaster University


Established in 1891, the Kelmscott Press was the last great project of William Morris. Conceived as a deliberate return to the technologies and processes of an earlier era of printing, the Press brought together an astonishingly gifted community of artists and artisans in a self-conscious attempt to produce "the ideal book." Its output — 53 books in total, each in a limited print run — represents a high point of aesthetic and philosophical attainment for the Arts and Crafts movement. The work of the Press went on to have a profound influence on both printing and the decorative arts, and its founding is traditionally considered the starting point for the small and fine press movement. McMaster University Library is fortunate to hold several volumes from the Press — including a sumptuous copy of its masterpiece, the Kelmscott Chaucer. 

Join Myron Groover (McMaster's Archives and Rare Books Librarian) for an exploration of the Kelmscott Press, its historical and aesthetic context, and McMaster's own collection of Kelmscott editions. 

Further Reading: 
- Norman Kelvin, Ed. The Collected Letters of William Morris. (Princeton, 1996.) 
- Elizabeth Carolyn Miller. Slow Print: Literary Radicalism and Late Victorian Print Culture. (Stanford, 2013.) 
- Paul Thompson. The Work of William Morris. (Oxford, 1991.) 
- The William Morris Internet Archive (courtesy of Marxists Internet Archive) - The Kelmscott Press Bibliography at the University of Iowa