Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1896. First edition. One of 425 copies printed on paper (13 were on vellum). Bound in the original publisher's holland-backed blue paper boards with paper spine label. A Fine copy. Very slight creasing of the paper spine label and a previous owner's bookplate on the front paste-down, otherwise an exceptionally lovely copy. Elegantly housed in a full blue morocco pull-off case.
A sumptuous collection of literature from one of England's greatest early masters. Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with setting the style of Middle English literature. He is often considered England’s first “poet laureate” – after he received a reward from Richard II for one of his poems. Although Chaucer is famous chiefly for his medieval-era masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, his works are also thought to have help make the English vernacular a poplar literary language. While famous in their own right, Chaucer's works have also influenced just about every major luminary of English literature to come after him.
Generally accepted as the most magnificent and revered of the fine press books. William Morris' Kelmscott Press reached it's pinacle with the publication of it's Works of Geoffrey Chaucer. The text was based on the Ellesmere manuscript (housed at the Huntington Library). The illustrations were done by Edward Burne-Jones, a prominent artist and designer in his own right and a close friend to Morris. The whole project took over four years to complete, finishing just months before Morris' death.
William Morris was perhaps the most prominent designer of the British Arts and Crafts movement, though during his life he also achieved fame for his writings and poetry. He founded the Kelmscott Press in his late 50s, ultimately as way to revive what he believed were the decaying standards of book printing, and to recover the beauty of early, hand printed, incunabula.
"...undoubtedly the noblest book as yet achieved by any English printer." -- (The Contemporary Review, 1898) Fine (Item #1816)