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William Morris and the Kelmscott Press in Buffalo

By Harriet Staff

The 19th century arts-and-craftsman William Morris is best remembered for his textiles and decorative arts, but it’s his books that will be on display in an exhibition at Buffalo’s Central Library through the end of January. Besides his furniture and design business, Morris was also behind the influential Kelmscott Press, where he carried over his devotion to handcrafting.

The books on display at the Central Library convey some of the stunning artwork that was created during the printing process. One of the most famous examples of Morris’ efforts, the Kelmscott Chaucer printed in 1896, will be on display at the exhibit. This edition is considered to be the greatest publication issued by a modern private press.

The exhibition will also feature the Doves Press English Bible, An Endeavor Towards the Teaching of John Ruskin, and William Morris and Spenser’s Faerie Queene. Morris was first exposed to Ruskin while attending Oxford and his writings would play a major role in Morris’s development as an artisan and a writer. He also began writing poetry during his time at Oxford and published throughout his life, though it would be 35 years before he would print his own work through The Kelmscott Press alongside Chaucer, Shakespeare, and his Pre-Raphaelite friend and frequent collaborator, Dante Gabriel Rossetti.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010 by Harriet Staff.