Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Utopia: Crafting the Ideal Book - Online Exhibition for 2017

Utopia by Thomas More (Kelmscott Press)
Continuing in the vein of my recent utopia post, next year will see the launch of a new digital exhibition for the University of Leeds Library's Special Collections - Utopia: Crafting the Ideal Book.

The centrepiece of the exhibition comprises two significant copies of Thomas More's Utopia, held in Special Collections. The first is an early edition, published in 1518 by the famous printer and publisher Johann Froben. The second is an 1893 edition, printed by William Morris at the Kelmscott Press in a limited edition of 300 (see image right).

The theme of utopia will be explored through its dialogue with More’s text, addressed directly by Morris in the foreword to the Kelmscott Press edition, and by drawing attention to the production methods and collection histories of both.

For example, the re-printing of Utopia by the Kelmscott Press reflects Morris’s interest in the book as a work of art and his belief in the transformative role of art and culture in social life. In the short essay, ‘The Ideal Book’, he wrote: 

The picture-book is not, perhaps, absolutely necessary to man's life, but it gives us such endless pleasure, and is so intimately connected with the other absolutely necessary art of imaginative literature that it must remain one of the very worthiest things towards the production of which reasonable men should strive.

The exhibition will be launched in 2017 and will be available from Special Collections' online exhibitions page.

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