Case six: Kelmscott Press and William Morris

Jacobus de Voragine’s The Golden Legends was originally intended to be the first book printed at the Kelmscott Press. Troubles finding large enough paper, however, meant that the printers had to proceed with smaller volumes until the right supplies were available. It would become the Press’s 7th book, produced under the joint editorship of Morris and a business partner F.S. Ellis, whose daughter transcribed the entire text from an original edition of early English printer William Caxton’s Golden Legends in the Cambridge University Library. Originally published in the 15th century, The Golden Legends was an ideal template upon which to experiment with ‘Golden’ type, which was inspired by the work of Venetian printmakers of the same period. The letters are bold, designed to hold their own beside heavily linear woodcuts, and contrast sharply with the spindly type typical of Victorian printing.