The Works of Geoffrey
Chaucer, Now Newly Imprinted.
Illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones.
Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896.
Gift of the Associates of Cornell University Library
As a leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement, William Morris rebelled against
the harsh utilitarianism of the machine age. He sought a solution in the
return to the methods and the materials of the fifteenth century, and to
designs he hoped would convey the flavor of that age. In his effort to revive
the art of hand-press printing and to elevate the humble beauty of the hand-made
object, Morris produced one of the great books in the history of printing--the
Kelmscott Chaucer. All aspects of this book's design and production refer
back to the characteristics of the medieval manuscript. The Gothic typeface,
the use of margins, the decorated initials and borders, and even the quality
of the paper speak to an earlier sensibility. The densely patterned marginal
motifs seen here in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales, mimic the patterned
wallpapers which Morris also popularized.
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