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The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer—Kelmscott Press

Publications released by the press established by William Morris are referred to as Kelmscott Press publications. In order to understand why books published by this press are so highly valued when there are so many publications of this type, it is necessary to describe Morris himself and the age in which he lived.

Morris lived approximately 100 years ago, in late 19th century England. The Industrial Revolution had made the manufacturing of large quantities of products more efficient. It was the beginning of a new age for manufacturing, and for the consumer. But with the emphasis on making ever-higher profits, voices decrying the mass production of inferior goods were also heard. It was not an age in which care was taken to produce goods individually. Even products which had been thought to be of a more spiritual nature—such as publications—were found to be lacking in quality. Morris lived in this age as a social reformer, artist, and craftsman—in short, an idealist and creator. The last task he undertook in his fight against inferior workmanship was the publication of books, and to that end he took the initiative to establish a press. It might be said that the books that Kelmscott Press publications were the light Morris shown to appeal to his countrymen to rediscover the spiritual nature of the creative process.

In Japan, England, and throughout the world, The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer is considered to be one of the three most beautiful books ever produced. Morris was not only responsible for the overall design of the book, but also designed the type as well. Although it was created more than 100 years ago, it still stands as a masterpiece of the art of printing, its beauty undiminished by the passing of time.   

The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer—Kelmscott Press

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