University of Glasgow


Part of the Library and University Services

Please note that these pages are from our old (pre-2010) website; the presentation of these pages may now appear outdated and may not always comply with current accessibility guidelines.

Graphic Design and Visual Culture in Europe 1890-1945

Private Press Books in Special Collections

Kelmscott Press

dedication pasted into Sp Coll f295

Perhaps the most famous of the private presses, William Morris established the Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith in January 1891. Between then and 1898, the press produced 53 books (totalling some 18,000 copies). Kelmscott was the culmination of Morris's life as a craftsman in many diverse fields. He set out to prove that the high standards of the past could be repeated - even surpassed - in the present. The books Morris produced were therefore medieval in design, modelled on the incunabula of the fifteenth century. Morris's  roman 'golden' type, for example, was inspired by that of the early printer Nicolaus Jenson of Venice. Noteworthy for their harmony of type and illustration, Morris' main priority was to have each book seen a a whole: this included taking painstaking care with all aspects of production, incuding the paper, the form of type, the spacing of the letters, and the position of the printed matter on the page. Kelmscott books re-awakened the ideals of book design and inspired better standards of production at a time when the printed page was generally at its poorest. Numerous other presses were set up to perpetuate Morris' aims, including the Doves, Eragny, Ashendene and Vale Presses.

frontispiece from The Well at the World's End

 opening of The Well at the World's End

 page of text from The Well at the World's End 

frontispiece to Book III of The Well at the World's End

 colophon of The Well at the World's End  

frontispiece title-page from The History of Godefrey of Boloyne 

 opening from The History of Godefrey of Boulogne 

page of text from The History of Godefrey of Boloyne
 pages of text from Gothic Architecture

page of text from Sidonia the Sorceress

 title-page & opening from Rossetti's Ballads and Narrative Poems 

end of preface and opening of The Nature of Gothic 


Return to private press home page