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

Online lecture: Medieval Manuscripts and Private Presses: William Morris and his Followers as Collectors and Creators of Books c. 1891-1914.

June 26, 2021 14.00 - 15.00


An online lecture organised by the Institute of English Studies, University of London, and co-hosted by The William Morris Society

William Morris built a large library of medieval manuscripts in the last five years of his life, the period in which he worked on the Kelmscott Press. Indeed the acquisition of his manuscripts and the creation and distribution of the Kelmscott books were facilitated by the same people, notably Bernard Quaritch and J. & J. Leighton. In 1893 Morris published ‘Some Notes on the Illuminated Books of the Middle Ages’, illustrated with items from his collection, and the content, layout and illumination of these hand-made books, as well as his library of early printed material, informed his work for the Press. Morris was not unique in combining collecting manuscripts with work on a private press. Most notably, Charles St John Hornby, founder of the Ashendene Press, also collected manuscripts. This lecture will examine the debt of books produced by the Kelmscott Press and other private presses run by Morris’ followers to medieval manuscripts and explore the networks that supported both the acquisition of manuscripts and the creation of private press books from the foundation of the Kelmscott Press to the start of the First World War.

Dr. Laura Cleaver is a Senior Lecturer in Manuscript Studies at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. She is currently leading a five-year project to assess the roles of collectors, scholars and dealers in the formation of collections of mediaeval manuscripts.

This is a free lecture, but you must book your place in advance through the link below.

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