In the last years of his life, Victorian artist, author, and activist William Morris founded a press near his residence of Kelmscott House in Hammersmith, England. The press was devoted to publishing Morris's own writing and significant works chosen by him--and Morris did not only choose which works to print; he also designed the books themselves, down to creating the types and borders used for the books. The Press's output as a whole echoes the illuminated manuscipts of medieval and early modern Europe, with vivid printings of the texts and elegant bindings using vellum and handmade paper. Altogether the Press published 66 volumes, of which Rare Books holds 54, including Beowulf, Sir Thomas More's Utopia, selected poetry by Keats and Coleridge, and the Press's most significant work, the Kelmscott Chaucer.
The title page and several selected pages from the Press's printing of Chaucer's works. This book was the culmination of William Morris's passion for medieval literature and for printing; it was printed shortly before his death in 1896. The book's 87 illustrations were provided by Pre-Raphaelite artist Sir Edward Burne-Jones.
The title page and selections from the Kelmscott edition of The Golden Legend. A collection of saint's lives by Jacobus de Voragine that was immensely popular during the medieval era, the work had over a thousand copies in manuscript form and was one of the first books that William Caxton, the first English printer, chose to print. As with the Kelmscott Chaucer, Sir Edward Burne-Jones illustrated the Kelmscott edition.