The history of publishing – William Morris and the Kelmscott Press

William Morris pattern

William Morris said, ““If I were asked to say what is at once the most important production of Art and the thing most to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful House; and if I were further asked to name the production next in importance and the thing next to be longed for; I should answer; A beautiful Book. To enjoy good houses and good books in self-respect and decent comfort, seems to me to be the pleasurable end towards which all societies of human beings ought now to struggle.”


In our efforts to train the most forward-thinking publishing graduates we can, the MA Publishing course at UCL has this year introduced a module called ‘Publishing Project’.  This module provides students with an opportunity to work on a “real” publishing project.  One group of 8 students are working with the William Morris Society. Together they will produce a physical publication that highlights some aspects of the Society’s collections and history – focussing in particular on Morris’s belief in books as objects of beauty.  Students will receive training in key production skills by staff at UCL, and in object handling, selecting and curating content, with support and expertise from the staff at the Society.  It is hoped that this partnership will result in a product for the Society’s use and dissemination, as well as giving the students an amazing opportunity to engage with one of the most important aesthetic movements of book production there has ever been – the works of Morris and the Kelmscott Press.

Project Leads
  • Samantha Rayner, Director, Centre for Publishing, Department of Information Studies, UCL
  • Helen Elletson, Curator, William Morris Society