Hogarth Press first edition book jacket designs
Katherine Mansfield, Prelude (1918)
This was the second publication of the Hogarth Press. It was a re-write of her long short story The Aloe which she had begun in 1915. 300 copies were printed.
“It is a sixty-eight-page book and we printed and bound it entirely with our own hands. The edition must have consisted of nearly 300 copies for, when it went out of print, we had sold 257 copies. Virginia did most of the setting and I did all the machining.”
Leonard Woolf, An Autobiography
“Prelude was published by the Hogarth Press in July 1918, an edition of 300 copies selling at 3s. 6d. It was a book of 68 pages, 19 X 14.5 cm, set in Caslon and bearing the dedication “To L.H.B. and J.M.M.” The early pages had been set by Barbara Hiles, a former student at the Slade who now worked for the Press, then mostly by Virginia Woolf, who recorded that her top speed at hand-setting was one page in an hour and a quarter. The book finally was not run off on the hand press at Hogarth House, but at a jobbing printer’s in Richmond, with Leonard himself working the machine.
The book was clearly the work of amateurs, but cleanly done and unpretentious. The Woolfs misnamed the story The Prelude in both the heading preceding section I, and in the running head as far as p.19. After the first few copies, they removed from the front of the dark blue paper jacket the line block of a woman’s head, surrounded by the spiky leaves and the flowers of the aloe and from the back cover another head, with the leaves now fallen into rather a Medusa-like severity, which had been designed by Mansfield’s friend, the Scottish painter J.D.Fergusson.”
Vincent O’Sullivan (ed), The Aloe
Hogarth Press studies
Woolf’s-head Publishing is a wonderful collection of cover designs, book jackets, and illustrations – but also a beautiful example of book production in its own right. It was produced as an exhibition catalogue and has quite rightly gone on to enjoy an independent life of its own. This book is a genuine collector’s item, and only months after its first publication it started to win awards for its design and production values. Anyone with the slightest interest in book production, graphic design, typography, or Bloomsbury will want to own a copy the minute they clap eyes on it.
Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: Hogarth Press, 1917-41 John Willis brings the remarkable story of Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s success as publishers to life. He generates interesting thumbnail sketches of all the Hogarth Press authors, which brings both them and the books they wrote into sharp focus. He also follows the development of many of its best-selling titles, and there’s a full account of the social and cultural development of the press. This is a scholarly work with extensive footnotes, bibliographies, and suggestions for further reading – but most of all it is a very readable study in cultural history.
© Roy Johnson 2005