Perpetuating the memory of one of the greatest men of the Victorian age

125 years of the Kelmscott Chaucer – William Morris and the Kelmscott Press


In 2021 it will be 125 years since the publication of the Kelmscott Chaucer, the crowning glory of Morris’s book printing venture. The William Morris Society is fortunate to own one of Morris’s original printing presses as well as a collection of Kelmscott Press books, original designs and proof pages. In 2021 we will celebrate this important anniversary through a varied programme that will explore the processes, products and legacy of the Kelmscott Press, including:

  • Talks and workshops
  • Two exhibitions exploring different aspects of the Kelmscott Press, and a re-hang of the room in which Morris’s original printing press is housed
  • A symposium on 6th November, dedicated to the Kelmscott Press and its legacies
  • A special double issue of the Journal of William Morris Studies to be published in Autumn 2021

The Kelmscott Press was Morris’s last great artistic venture. With the support of his friend and collaborator Emery Walker, Morris established a book printing operation near his home in Hammersmith. His respect for traditional craftsmanship, search for perfection in design and love of literature all came together in the books produced by the Kelmscott Press. The most ambitious of these was the complete works of Chaucer, described by Edward Burne- Jones as ‘like a pocket cathedral’. Published just months before Morris’s death, it embodies his highest design ideals.

To learn more about events and activities in this programme, visit our events page.

The William Morris Society has also launched an appeal to raise funds for the redevelopment of the Emberton Print Room at Kelmscott House. You can find out more and make a donation on our appeal page.

The Kelmscott Press and its Legacies Symposium will take place on Saturday 6 November at St Bride Foundation, London, and will also be livestreamed. The Programme is available here and you can book tickets here.

Letterpress printers and artists are invited to print and submit a short extract from Morris’s Chaucer, which we will feature in an exhibition, in our Magazine and on our social media channels. Expressions of interest are due by 9 July, with submission of the final work by 20 September. Find out more here.

International Kelmscott Chaucer Day takes place on 26 June 2021. Find out more here.

Read the Senate House Library blog celebrating the Kelmscott Press here.

We hope that you will join us to discover more about the processes behind the production of the Chaucer, the beauty of the Kelmscott Press books and the lasting legacy that the Press left on the book printing world.