Friday, December 14, 2007

Kelmscott Chaucer

The term is drawing to a close and I've been marking exams in the library 24/7. This afternoon I took a bit of a break from marking and wandered over to the Chaucer section, where I came across a stunning facsimile of the Kelmscott Press edition of the works of Chaucer.

The illustrations are by Edward Burne Jones. Considering the size of the volume (554 pages) there are a remarkeable number of drawings. (the book also includes a glossary, which can be quite helpful if it's been a while since you last read Middle English!). What really struck me was that Burne-Jones never really repeats a border. I am truly in awe that someone could be so creative!
I would love to get a copy, but after doing a brief search on Amazon, I discovered that this lovely volume has gone out of print (if I'm wrong, please let me know!). Beautiful books like this are so inspiring to kids--the difference between reading a fantastic book like this and a dull paperback is immense. Maybe if there were more books like this around, people would be more inclined to pick up the works of Chaucer!


Anonymous said...

Thre are three facsimile versions of the Kelmscott Chaucer, the Basilisk Press version from the 1970s, the recent Folio Society production and the World version from the 1950s. The last is quite inexpensive, while the first two can cost thousands. All have been available online in the past. Just run a search.

Anonymous said...

I have just purchased a facsimilie copy of the Kelmscott Chaucer. It is published by CRW Publishing in London and the ISBN is 978-1-904919-75-9.

It was a reasonably inexpensive copy but absolutely fantastic to look at. I hope you can find one.

Osbaldistone said...

The Folio Society production currently available (; $600) is a full-sized facsimile (16-3/4" x 11-1/2") on high quality, specially commissioned paper and premium binding. An earlier, limited edition was bound in pigskin imitating the premium edition of the original Kelmscott, with a separately bound commentary, all in a solander box, and sold for $1,500 or so, as I recall.

The CRW facsimile is a reduced sized facsimile (but still pretty large at 30.4cm x 24.2cm; 12" x 9.5"), plainly bound on quality, but every-day paper. It is currently available on (Canada) for CDN$60, but not on (USA).


mcccune collection said...

The Kelmscott Chaucer is an outstanding book. If you are interested in seeing additonal illustrations from it, you might want to check out the McCune Collection website:
The McCune Collection has additional illustrations on the website and there are plans to put all the illustrations from the Kelmscott Chaucer online in the future.

The McCune also has illustrations from the 1790 Don Quixote and 1517 Aeneid. They will also be putting their 15th Century books online in a digitalize format.