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Hogarth Press centennial

A century ago today, on March 23, 1917, Leonard and Virginia Woolf purchased a small hand press and some type from a shop in London. They set the equipment up on their dining room table and thus the Hogarth Press (named after their home, Hogarth House) was born.

Virginia had taken some bookbinding classes some years previously, and the printing press was meant to be a new hobby to combat her depression. Because the Woolfs chose to print experimental work which would not have been commercially viable to large publishers, the press also allowed Virginia the freedom to explore new avenues in her own work. The first book from the new press was issued in July of 1917.

The Hogarth Press printed works by the Woolfs and the writers in their circle, as well as important emerging authors, and often feature the artistry of modern designers and illustrators, including Virginia’s sister Vanessa Bell. As their printing efforts expanded, the Press became a major force in the development and promotion of the modernist movement in literature, publishing works from writers as varied as E. M. Forster, T.S. Eliot, and Sigmund Freud. The Hogarth Press would issue over 500 titles before the imprint was sold to British commercial publisher Chatto and Windus in 1946.

Special Collections owns about 30 pre-1946 Hogarth Press imprints, the earliest of which date from 1920-21 and are shown in this post.

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