Kelmscott Chaucer

The Kelmscott Chaucer

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Lecturer: DOMINIC RILEY

William Morris founded his Kelmscott Press in 1890 in order to save the fine art of hand printing in Britain. When in 1896 his last book, the Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, was published, it was universally hailed as the greatest book of the age. It is a huge book, with illustrations by Burne Jones and decorations by Morris, and was printed at the press in Hammersmith over a four year period. Fewer than 400 copies were produced. In 2012 Dominic was presented with a copy in a poor binding, with a view to creating a contemporary artistic binding for it. This lecture is the record that process. He will give an overview of Morris and the Kelmscott Press, and then talk about his very demanding commission — from the early designs to the completion of the project four years later. This lecture is a step-by-step look at how fine bindings are made, as well as an insight into an extraordinary artistic journey. The completed binding has been donated to the National Art Library at the Victoria and Albert museum, an institution very close to William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement.