William Morris and Fine Printing in England


The Tale of King Florus and the Fair Jehane

Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1893. One of 350 copies.

The source for this French tale was Nouvelles françaises en prose du xiiiième siècle by L. Moland and C. D'Hericault (1856). One avid collector at the time purchased 76 copies and had them bound by renowned bookbinders throughout the world. This unique collection was displayed in London in the summer of 1894 and is now preserved in the John Rylands Library in Manchester, England.

The Tale of the Emperor Coustans and of Over Sea

Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1894.
One of 525 copies on paper.

These pages are characteristic of many of the shorter works that Morris printed: handmade paper, type which looks vaguely Gothic, three- and six-line initials with entwined foliage, and shoulder notes and some lines printed in red.

The Poems of John Keats
F.S. ELLIS, ed.

Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1894.
One of 300 copies on paper.

The colophon states: "Overseen after the text of foregoing editions by F. S. Ellis, and printed by me William Morris at the Kelmscott Press, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, in the Country of Middlesex, and finished on the 7th day of March, 1894." This copy was specially bound in green leather with ornate gold tooling at the Doves Bindery in Hammersmith.

Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein.

Sir Ysambrace
F.S. ELLIS, ed.

Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1897.
One of 350 copies on paper.

Woodcut illustration designed by Sir Edward Burne-Jones, initials by William Morris. The source of the text is J. O. Halliwell's Thornton Romances, based upon a manuscript in the Library at Lincoln Cathedral.

The Pilgrim's Progress

London: Essex House Press, 1899.
No. 750 of 750 copies.

John Bunyan (1628-88) wrote the first part of this Christian allegory while imprisoned in the early 1670s for religious reasons. The book was first published in 1678. The woodcut frontispiece is by Reginald Savage.

Les Ballades de Maistre

London: Eragny Press, 1900.
One of 226 copies.

François Villon, a fifteenth-century French poet whose unconventional lifestyle and verse brought him into conflict with the authorities, found later admirers in D. G. Rossetti and Algernon Swinburne. Frontispiece by Lucien Pissarro, owner of the press. Borders and initials designed by Lucien Pissarro and cut by Esther Pissarro.

Gift of the Class of 1932.

William Morris: An Address Delivered the XIth November MDCCCC at Kelmscott House Hammersmith Before the Hammersmith Socialist Society

Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1901.
One of 300 copies.

Mackail was Burne-Jones's son-in-law and the first biographer of Morris. An early socialist like Morris, Mackail says of him: "[The English socialists] aimed at a great result, the total reconstruction of society. In the first flush of the movement nothing seemed impossible; and Morris, with all his practical sagacity & experience, shared the confidence of his colleagues" (p. 21).

Choix de Sonnets de P. de Ronsard

London: Eragny Press, 1902. One of 226 copies.

Pierre de Ronsard (1524-85) was one of the most admired French poets of the sixteenth century and had considerable influence on English sonneteers of the time. Frontispiece by Lucien Pissarro. The border and initials designed by Lucien Pissarro and cut by Esther Pissarro.

Gift of The Bush Foundation.

The Booke of Freendeship of Marcus Tullie Cicero
E.D. ROSS, ed.

London: Essex House Press, 1904.
No. 13 of 150 copies on paper.

Cicero wrote his dialogue De Amicitia in 129 B.C., and his definition of friendship is best summarized by Laelius, one of the interlocutors in the work: "For friendship is nothing else than an accord in all things, human and divine, conjoined with mutual goodwill and affection, and I am inclined to think that, with the exception of wisdom, no better thing has been given to man by the immortal gods." The woodcut portraits were designed by C. R. Ashbee, owner of the press.

The Little School, A Posy of Rhymes

London: Eragny Press, 1905.
One of 175 copies on paper.

With four woodcut illustrations by the author. The printed dedication reads: "To Sybil Pye, the Mistress of The Little School, who wished these poems made for, and brought them home to children."

Gift of the Class of 1932.

The Picture of Kebes the Theban

Chipping Campden: Essex House Press, 1906.
One of 50 copies, printed specially for the translator for private distribution.

Cebes of Thebes was a pupil of Socrates, and he appears in Plato's Phaedo.

Faust, Eine Tragoedie

Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1906.
One of 300 copies on paper.

The text is based on the 1887 Weimar edition of Goethe's works. Printed here is Faust's opening monologue:
I have pursued, alas, philosophy,
Jurisprudence, and medicine,
And, help me God, theology,
With fervent zeal through thick and thin.
And here, poor fool, I stand once more,
No wiser than I was before.

In principio erat verbum et verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat verbum

Hammersmith: Doves Press, 1911.
One of 200 copies.

The first chapter of Genesis, published on the tercentenary of the publication of the King James Bible. Bound in leather at the Doves Bindery.

The Faerie Queen 2
The Fairie Queen Disposed into Twelue Bookes Fashioning XII. Morall Vertues

Chelsea: Ashendene Press, 1922.
One of 180 copies on paper.

Considered one of the greatest Ashendene books, The Fairie Queen is an excellent example of beauty in simplicity with no illustration, the only ornamentation being the blue and red printing and large initials. The book ends with a prayer from the printer to future bookbinders: "The Printer having sorrowfully noted the wanton & irreparable damage done to many fine books at the hands of the Binders of past ages by the cropping of their edges and the consequent spoiling of the fair proportions of their margins, humbly prays the Binders of the future into whose hands copies of this book may fall to spare the knife and leave the edges, as he hopes they may find them, unmutilated. And so may the blessing of God rest upon them & prosper them in their handiwork."
The Faerie Queen

Spenser's Works
Works, vol. 1

Oxford: Shakespeare Head Press, 1930.
No. 5 of 11 copies printed on vellum.

There are eight volumes in the edition, this volume containing The Shepheardes Calender (1579) and Complaints (1591).

Gift of Jane and Raphael Bernstein.

Adonais, An Elegy on the Death of John Keats

London: Reed Pale Press, 1935.
One of 240 copies on paper.

Shelley's pastoral elegy written in Spenserian stanzas appeared originally in 1821, shortly after the premature death of Keats. Echoing Christian thoughts on death, Shelley finds joy rather than sorrow in the event:
The One remains, the many change and pass;
Heaven's light forever shines, Earth's shadows fly;
Life, like a dome of many-colored glass,
Stains the white radiance of Eternity.

Bound in unbleached vellum by Sangorski and Sutcliffe.

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