New acquisitions: Printing proofs for the Kelmscott Chaucer

Special Collections recently acquired five printing proofs of wood engravings from William Morris’ masterpiece, the 1896 Works of Chaucer. The illustrations were designed by Victorian artist Edward Burne-Jones, and then would have been transferred to blocks of wood by Robert Catterson-Smith and then engraved by William Harcourt Hopper. These proofs would have been created as drafts of creating and printing the entire page composition, which includes the illustration, woodblock borders, and type. The proof shown here corresponds to page 452 of the Chaucer, from “The House of Fame.” The proof has been initialed by Burne-Jones and includes small penciled comments about the image in the margins. The proofs are available for research in the Special Collections reading room, as is our copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer and other works from the Kelmscott Press.

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