William Morris and the demise of printing

87ec15ec-7d61-11e5_1187920hJan Marsh at the Times Literary Supplement:

In 1893 William Morris predicted the end of the book, saying “within fifty years printing books would be an extinct art – we should be carrying all our books about in bottles with patent stoppers. While there was still a chance, [we] should try and produce a few specimens of what was really good printing”.

At the time the Kelmscott Press was in its third year and Morris had been asked to speak on printing for the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society. His talk “On the Printing of Books” took place on November 2, 1893 at the New Gallery in Regent Street, and was reported in The Times on November 6. Morris, who was received with cheers at the beginning and end of the lecture, “demonstrated by means of lantern slides the various stages which printing had passed through from the time of its invention until the third decade of the 16th century” and concluded with illustrations from Caxton’s Golden Legend and Historyes of Troy, printed at the Kelmscott Press.

When published, the lecture traced the origins of European printing with moveable metal type when “it was a matter of course that . . . when the craftsmen took care that beautiful form should always be a part of their productions whatever they were, the forms of printed letters should be beautiful, and that their arrangement on the page should be reasonable and a help to the shapeliness of the letters themselves”.

more here.