Books and the Kelmscott Press


he Kelmscott Press was Morris’s last major artistic and design venture. His lifelong interest in books and manuscripts, and his knowledge of typography, meant that he brought a vast amount of experience to the production of beautifully designed books, printed and bound to the highest standards.

Kelmscott Press

The energy Morris brought to all his activities is nowhere more apparent than in the Kelmscott Press. During the life of the press, from 1891 to 1898 (two years after Morris’s death), fifty-two volumes were produced. Morris was intimately involved with all aspects of the planning, design and production, and many of the titles were his own works. The size of the editions was always small, averaging around 300 copies per title.

"I began printing books with the hope of producing some which would have a definite claim to beauty, while at the same time they should be easy to read and should not dazzle the eye, or trouble the intellect of the reader by eccentricity of form in the letters."

William Morris, 1893

As with his other design projects, Morris studied every aspect of the task. He designed typefaces, initial letters and decorative borders, and went to great lengths to obtain appropriate papers and vellum, and to achieve the appropriate bindings. Like much of Morris’s design work, the finished page was often a collaborative exercise. The artists who supplied engraved images for Morris’s borders included Arthur Gaskin, Walter Crane and Edward Burne-Jones. It was the latter, however, who supplied the majority of engravings for the Kelmscott Press and whose images have the strongest associations with its illustrative style.

Image Gallery