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A Bibliophile’s Farewell

Hogarth Time


Time is like a fashionable host

That slightly shakes his parting guest by the hand,

And with his arms outstretch’d, as he would fly,

Grasps in the comer: welcome ever smiles,

And farewell goes out sighing.

– Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida


It is with both sighs and smiles that I thank you all for joining me over the last few weeks, and offer hearty welcome to new digital poet in residence, Clare Shaw.


Oxford Fine Press


My residency couldn’t have culminated in fitter fashion than by visiting the Oxford Fine Press Fair at the weekend. Bustling rooms, stands brimming with rare riches – I completely ran out of time. The Fine Press Book Association blog lists this year’s prize winners. My own highlight was Susan Allix’s A Prospect of Gardens, a multi-textured, kaleidoscopic adventure through the Gardens of Ancient Egypt; Early Persian Gardens; Illusion and Reality in Roman Gardens; Giardino Giusti; Mughal Gardens, Lost and Found; and Jardin Majorelle. Sumptuous. More images can be ogled on her website.


Susan Allix Garden


At the other end of the scale was The Sonnets Watch Book, which blinks out two of Shakespeare’s sonnets in Morse code. The fair caters for all tastes!

I haven’t been quite so nonpartisan over the course of this residency, in my quest to champion the ‘beautiful book’. For intrigued aesthetes and budding bibliophiles, I have compiled a partial bibliography to help steer further reading. Please add any you think worth recommending in the comments box below. Do look out for the forthcoming ‘digital book’ that will showcase all the marvellous Aesthetic Experiments from the Open Workshop. And as for me…


And as for me, thogh that I can but lyte,

On bokes for to rede I me delyte,

And to hem yeve I feyth and ful credence,

And in myn herte have hem in reverence

So hertely, that ther is game noon,

That fro my bokes maketh me to goon.

– from the Prologue to Chaucer’s Legend of Good Women



Chaucer reading




MAKING: Mechanics & Craft

A Companion to the History of the Book

Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style

Gerry Cambridge, The Printed Snow: On Typesetting Poetry

Cleeton/Pitkin/Cornwell, General Printing

Matthew Crawford, The Case for Working with Your Hands

Simon Garfield, Just My Type

Eric Gill, An essay on Typography

Seamus Heaney, Feeling into Words

Richard Kennedy, A Boy at the Hogarth Press

Fiona MacCarthy, William Morris: A Life for Our Time

Joseph Moxon, Mechanick Exercises

John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

Richard Sennett, The Craftsman

K. Silem Mohammad, ‘Notes on Craft and Failure’, Poetry Foundation Harriet Blog

Beatrice Warde, ‘The Crystal Goblet’

Crafts: The Magazine for Contemporary Craft

Matrix Journal

The Crafts of Freedom blog:


DRESSING UP: ‘Aura’ & the Visual

Age of Enchantment catalogue

Walter Benjamin, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Megan Benton, Beauty and the Book

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Michael Clark, (ed.) Revenge of the Aesthetic: The Place of Literature in Theory Today

Clarence Day, The World of Books

Johanna Drucker, The Century of Artists’ Books

Tom Lubbock, English Graphic

Peter Mendelsund, What We See When We Read


HOARDING: Libraries & Collections

Walter Benjamin, Unpacking My Library – A Talk About Book Collecting

Alice Crawford (ed.) The Meaning of the Library: A Cultural History

Sheila Markham, A Book of Booksellers: Conversations with the Antiquarian Book Trade

Tusculum Rare Books catalogue

The Wormsley Library catalogue



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Image Credits:

Image: Belle’s library from The Beauty and the Beast