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Printers and Collectors

Utopia 1A
Thomas More’s novel Utopia was first published in Latin in 1516. Famous for it's playful account of an ideal society set on an island of the same name, the word has since become known as a general term for a better vision of the world.
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Utopia 3A
William Morris was born in 1834. From an early age he had a keen interest in the architecture and art of the Middle Ages, which informed many of his later art and design ventures.Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden (1880-1946), the former owner of the 1518 edition of Utopia, was, like Morris, fascinated by the Middle Ages
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Utopia 4A
Morris founded the Kelmscott Press in Hammersmith in 1891. The Press produced books using techniques inspired by medieval craftsmanship and created designs in the in the style of fifteenth century books.
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Utopia 5A
The 1893 edition of Utopia was a reprint of the second English edition of 1556. The book was printed at the Kelmscott Press and then bound in white pig's skin with metal clasps.
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Utopia 6A
The 1518 edition of Utopia is one of 117 volumes purchased from the library of Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden. Much of the collection was rebound early in the 20th century by Rivière & Sons.
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Utopia 7
The reprinting of Utopia by the Kelmscott Press reflects Morris’s interest in both the medieval past and a potentially transformed future.
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William Morris was born in 1834. From an early age he had a keen interest in the architecture and art of the Middle Ages, which informed many of his later art and design ventures. He is now most well-remembered for his decorative arts work, much of which was produced by the firm Morris & Co.

Morris was inspired in his designs by medieval art and printing methods. The influence of these methods can be seen in the 1893 edition of Utopia. Morris is also known to have collected incunabula (books printed before 1500). Two of the books from his collection are now held in Special Collections (see the book label of William Morris on the paste-down of the Processus Judiciarius (c. 1485).

Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden (1880-1946), the former owner of the 1518 edition of Utopia, was, like Morris, fascinated by the Middle Ages and had ‘a romantic yearning to recreate its chivalric spirit and traditions’. This romanticism is reflected in his personal book plate, which depicts an armoured knight atop a horse in the foreground with a medieval castle in the background. 

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