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The period of William Morris and the private presses Library Exhibition “What makes a beautiful book?”

415Period : 2014/03/24(Mon)~2014/04/24(Thu)
Venue : Exhibition Room on the 2nd floor of the Center for Scholarly Information (Building No. 18)
Hours: 10:00am – 6:00pm
Closed: Sundays
Organized by: Waseda University Library


In England during the Victorian period, when people exulted in the novelty and richness brought by the Industrial Revolution, the traditional craft of printing underwent great changes as well. The development of industrial technologies and the increasing literacy rate combined to encourage the printing in large numbers of a wide variety of publications for ordinary people. While on the one hand these changes made reading a familiar activity for many, on the other hand, inferior papers, illegible type faces, and improper positioning of printed matter became commonplace.
William Morris (1834-1896), the poet, designer, and social activist, took a stand against the mass-production of inferior printed materials and founded the Kelmscott Press. He admired medieval manuscripts and incunabula, the earliest printings published in the 15th century, and spared no effort to publish beautiful books of good quality. Inspired by Morris’s activities, others set up their own private presses, each with distinctive characteristics. The desire to make fine books was transmitted from England to other countries in Europe and to the United States, and had considerable influence on book-design in the 20th century.
In this exhibition, we introduce works from the Waseda University Library collection that were published by private presses in England, such as the Kelmscott Press, the Vale Press, and the Doves Press. The exhibition also includes materials related to publishing in the same era, as well as some rare medieval manuscripts and incunabula as special exhibits.
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