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Claim to Beauty

William Morris and the Kelmscott Press

written by John Christian

British Museum Press | ISBN 9780714126784

Hardback – 192 pages


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In January 1891, William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in order to produce books by traditional methods using, as far as possible, the printing technology and typographical style of the fifteenth century. This reflected the tenets of the Arts and Crafts Movement and was Morriss response to the mechanisation and mass production then permeating many aspects of daily life. These books were designed to be read slowly, to be appreciated and treasured. "A Claim to Beauty" opens with an overview of William Morriss diverse career, detailing his achievements across the decorative arts and in literature. The focus then narrows to concentrate on Morriss lifelong passion for the art of the book, including his early experiments with typography and the wide range of his interests and influences, from medieval illuminated manuscripts to Germanic woodcuts. At the Kelmscott Press, Morris produced beautiful editions of more than fifty books, including his favourite authors such as Chaucer, William Caxton, Sir Thomas More and Shakespeare. The crowning jewel was the folio edition of the works of Chaucer, conceived in 1891 and finally completed in May 1896, five months before Morriss death, with no fewer than 87 illustrations by Edward Burne Jones. A full chapter is devoted to this famous book and its illustrations.

Artist: William Morris

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