Friday, January 15, 2010

Special binding of The Prelude

I am pleased to announce my special binding of The Prelude by William Wordsworth is now available. The cover design is based on a detail from the same watercolour that was used for the fourteen illustrations. Other details form doublures and flyleaves. Bound in white alum-tawed goatskin, the book is hand-sewn on linen tapes, with hand-sewn, two-colour headbands and leather-jointed end leaves. It is presented in a felt-lined drop-back box together with an extra set of the illustrations, including one not printed in the book.
Price: $5000

Designed, printed and bound by David Esslemont.

380 pp., 290 x 185 mm. Set in Adobe Bembo and printed on Zerkall mould-made paper in an edition of 200 copies. Fourteen illustrations are archival inkjet prints.

Published in 2007 by the Wordsworth Trust.

The Prelude
Edited by Robert Woof
Foreword by Stephen Gill

Wordsworth’s masterpiece
This edition of Wordsworth’s masterpiece follows the text of one of the Trust’s greatest treasures, the fair copy made by Dorothy Wordsworth in 1805–6 known as ‘Manuscript A’. In 1805 Dorothy wrote to Lady Beaumont: ‘I am now engaged in making a fair and final transcript of the poem on his life, I mean final till it is prepared for the press, which will not be for many years. No doubt before that time he will, either from the suggestions of his friends, or his own, or both, have some alterations to make, but appears to us at present to be finished.’

Greatest poetic achievement
As predicted, Wordsworth continued to revise the poem and it was not published until after his death in 1850. The 1805 version of the poem, now considered Wordsworth’s greatest poetic achievement, did not reach the public until 1926 in an edition based on Manuscript A, with reference to ‘Manuscript B’, another fair copy made at the same period by Mary Wordsworth. Our new edition follows closely the original spelling and light punctuation of Manuscript A and presents Wordsworth’s poem as it stood at a particular point in time when he appeared, to his wife and sister, ‘to be finished’.

A haunting need
Robert Woof’s introductory essay describes the early growth of the poem, tracing the changes that were made between the very first fragments of 1798 and the poem as completed in 1805–6: ‘Many of these changes reveal a different, often expanded and more deeply explored presentation of Wordsworth’s experience as a boy, a young man, a political figure and a potential poet whose subject is a haunting need to deepen his own self-analysis.’


  1. looks amazing. how did you get the pigment on the skin?, ie, paint, or dye or other?

  2. thanks for your comments

    I printed directly on the leather (South American alum-tawed goat from Talas) using my Epson 3800. I first pasted the leather on to a stretched paper (225g) support.


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