The Ideal Book: William Morris and the Kelmscott Press (October 2010 - January 2011)

Rare Book Room Display : Mainfloor, Central Library


The Library's current rare book exhibit celebrates the works of William Morris (1834-1896), 19th century English craftsman. He is often remembered today for Morris & Co. which manufactured and sold distinctive furnishings and décor including wallpaper, stained glass, rugs, and tapestries. However, he also founded one of the most famous private presses – the Kelmscott Press – where he produced beautiful and limited-edition, hand-crafted books. This exhibition showcases works of the Kelmscott Press from the Library’s collection, including the renowned Chaucer, and a selection of books from local presses influenced by Morris such as the Roycroft Press (East Aurora, NY) and Aries Press (Eden, NY). The Kelmscott Chaucer (1896), completed only a few months before Morris passed away, is widely regarded as the greatest publication issued by a modern private press and has even been hailed as the finest book ever printed.

The story of the Kelmscott Press, its founder William Morris, and the involvement of important individuals like the artist Edward Burne-Jones are included as background to the stunning books on display.