THE KELMSCOTT CHAUCER: A CENSUS.
(Kelmscott Press). Peterson, William S. and Sylvia Holton Peterson.
- New Castle, Delaware: Oak Knoll Press, 2011.
- 8.5 x 11 inches
- hardcover, dust jacket
- 280 pages
- ISBN 9781584562894 / Order Nr. 103887
- Price: $95.00 other currencies
When William Morris founded the Kelmscott Press, his celebrated private press, in 1891, one of the books he intended to print was an edition of the writings of Geoffrey Chaucer. Because of its size and complexity, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer did not emerge from the press until June 1896, shortly before Morris's death. Even at the time of publication, there was almost universal recognition that it was the most ambitious and remarkable book produced in the nineteenth century. Morris himself designed the type, initials, and borders. His old friend Sir Edward Burne-Jones created the eighty-seven wood-engraved illustrations, and the book was printed on a hand-press with ink, paper, and vellum made to Morris' exact specifications.
According to Sydney Cockerell, the second Secretary of the Kelmscott Press, Morris printed 425 copies of the Chaucer book on paper and thirteen on vellum. This Census locates and describes as many of those books (which are now scattered all over the world) as possible and reconstructs their complicated history of ownership, supplying a narrative of the fortunes of each known copy that came off the press in 1896. New information about unlocated copies, copies that have been sold by book dealers and auction houses, and the binders who have subsequently rebound many of the copies is also included. Three substantial appendices record the copies sold by Bernard Quaritch (the London bookseller most closely associated with the production of the Chaucer), the mailing list of the Kelmscott Press, and other unpublished contemporary documents.
William S. Peterson (Professor of English Emeritus, University of Maryland) has written extensively about the Kelmscott Press and other aspects of fine printing in Britain and America. He is currently the editor of Printing History, the journal of the American Printing History Association. Sylvia Holton Peterson (Professor of English Emerita, University of the District of Columbia) is a medievalist and the co-author (with Jackson Campbell Boswell) of Chaucer's Fame in England: STC Chauceriana, 1475-1540 (2004).