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

KELMSCOTT Chaucer Reimaginings

“If we live to finish it…it will be like a pocket cathedral – so full of design and I think Morris the greatest master of ornament in the world.” – 1894, Edward Burne-Jones about the Kelmscott Chaucer

This year The William Morris Society celebrates 130 years since the founding of William Morris’s Kelmscott Press and 125 years since the Press’s publication of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, its crowning work and one that embodied Morris’s highest design ideals.

To honour this date and the enduring legacy of the Kelmscott Chaucer we placed an open call to contemporary letterpress printers and artists inviting them to print an extract from it. Our call was enthusiastically answered by a diverse range of talented and passionate printers from around the globe.

The entry requirements were broad, to encourage creative spirit and innovative thinking. The only stipulations were that the piece not exceed 60cm by 85cm in size and that an excerpt from Morris’s Kelmscott Chaucer feature in some form. Such creative license resulted in a fantastic array of unique prints that range in size, colour, language, medium, font and imagery.

In addition to marking the significant legacy of the Kelmscott Chaucer, this project highlights the talented and active community of letterpress printers and artists of the 21st century. These skilled individuals carry forward the craft of hand-printing, demonstrating its continued relevance, sharing its rich history and ensuring its future existence.

The Original

‘The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer,’ edited by FS Ellis, Published by the Kelmscott Press in June 1896, Board and linen binding, paper pages

The Kelmscott Chaucer was the last title printed by the Kelmscott Press that was overseen by William Morris before his death in 1896. It represents the culmination of Morris’s pursuit of the “Ideal Book” and is widely considered one of the most beautiful books ever printed. 

The Kelmscott Chaucer took four years to complete (1892-1896) and was the largest project the Press ever undertook. Morris and Edward Burne-Jones had a shared love of Chaucer’s poetry dating back to their time as students at Oxford and had spoken about printing their own edition of the Canterbury Tales well before the founding of the Kelmscott Press.

All 486 copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer were presold before the book went to print. This popularity led Morris to purchase a third Albion press, that worked almost exclusively on printing the Kelmscott Chaucer. The finished book contains 87 illustrations by Burne-Jones, a woodcut title page, 14 large borders, 18 frames and 26 initial words designed by Morris.

Learn more about Morris’s Kelmscott Press here

The REIMAGININGS

We invite you to explore the reimagined excerpts from the Kelmscott Chaucer, crafted by contemporary letterpress printers and artists.

Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress

Kelmscott Chaucer, Prologue
Kadin HenningsenMeanwhile…Letterpress, Illinois, USA 

48cm wide, 63.5cm long 

2021

Visual Portfolio, Posts & Image Gallery for WordPress

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Milleres Tale (The Miller’s Tale)
David BrewerRabbittown Press, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada 

38.5cm wide, 56cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Cookes Tale (The Cook’s Tale)
Jeff PulaskiDirector, School of Art, Design and Creative Industries, 
Wichita State University, USA

 25.5cm wide, 50.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Tale of the Man of Lawe (The Man of Law’s Tale)
Thin Ice Press at the University of York,  UK

 23.5cm wide, 32.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer,  The Shipmannes Tale (The Shipman’s Tale)
Jim HellmanWichita State University, USA

 Closed 25cm wide, 26cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer,  The Prioresses Tale (The Prioress’s Tale)
Chloe FosterMichigan, USA

 Closed 6.5cm wide, 9cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, Chaucer’s Tale of Thopas (The Tale of Sir Thopas)
Ray Nichols, Jill Cypher and Casey Smith, Lead Graffiti studio, Delaware, USA

 45cm wide, 61cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, Tale of Melibee (The Tale of Melibeus)
Katie BeardRooksmoor Press, UK

 32.5cm wide, 50cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Monkes Tale (The Monk’s Tale)
Joel Mitchell,  UK

26cm wide, 36.5cm long 

2021

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Kelmscott Chaucer, The Nonnes Prestes Tale (The Nun’s Priest’s Tale)
Arie C. KoelewynThe Paper Airplane Press, Michigan USA

Closed 11.5cm wide, 16cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Phisiciens Tale (The Physician’s Tale)
Stephane de SchrevelGent, Belgium

61cm wide, 43cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Pardoners Tale (The Pardoner’s Tale)
Hugh MacfarlaneTudor Black Press, UK

33.5cm wide, 51cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, Tale of the Wife of Bath (The Wife of Bath’s Tale)
Emily Carrington  Freeman

38cm wide, 53.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Freres Tale (The Friar’s Tale)
Jonathan Senchyne Associate Professor of Book History and Print Culture  at 
University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA


27cm wide, 24.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Tale of the Clerk of Oxenford (The Clerk’s Tale)
Susan Guinn-Chipman, Danny Long, Gregory Robl and Julia Seko 
UC Boulder University Libraries, USA

35.5cm wide, 29cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Somonours Tale (The Summoner’s Tale)
Patrick GoossensLetter-kunde Press, Antwerp, Belgium

30cm wide, 39.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Marchantes Tale (The Merchant’s Tale)
Paul MoxonFameorshame Press, USA

28cm wide, 35.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Squieres Tale (The Squire’s Tale)
Chris Campbell Big Wheel Press, Massachusetts, USA

28.5cm wide, 42 cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Frankeleyns Tale (The Franklin’s Tale)
Tom Juvan, Agere Press, Westover School, Connecticut, USA

21.5cm wide, 28.5cm long

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Second Nonnes Tale (The Second Nun’s Tale)
Eleanor BakerDPhil Student in Medieval Literature at St John's College, Oxford 
University, UK

40cm wide, 30cm long
2021
Kelmscott Chaucer, The Chanouns Yemannes Tale (The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale)
Richard JermynEden, Australia

45cm wide, 63.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Maunciples Tale (The Manciple’s Tale)
Johanna  Fößl, Austria 

15cm wide, 34.5cm long 

2021

Kelmscott Chaucer, The Persouns Tale (The Parson’s Tale)
Evgenia KochkinaStoneberry Press, Edinburgh, UK

34cm wide, 60 cm long 

2021

THANK YOU FOR VISITING OUR ONLINE EXHIBITION!

The William Morris Society is a registered charity.  If you are able, please make a donation to help us continue our education work, to care for our unique collection, and to preserve the legacy of William Morris.

Any amount, large or small, makes a difference! Thank you!