’Twere all one
That I should love a bright particular star
And think to wed it, he is so far above me.
Act 1, Sc. 1
A poor physician’s daughter, Helena has dared to fall in love with the young Count Bertram. After she cures the king who was suffering from a terrible disease, she asks for Bertram’s hand in marriage as a reward. Undaunted by his contemptuous rejection, Helena contrives to gain his ring and become pregnant by him, all without his knowledge. The play ends with Bertram agreeing to honour the forced marriage.
George Bernard Shaw called it ‘a bitter play with a bitter title’, although he greatly admired the female characters, thinking the Countess ‘the most beautiful old woman’s part ever written’. Other nineteenth-century critics were appalled by Helena’s bold pursuit of Bertram, while all commentators have struggled with Bertram himself – is he a spoilt boy, or a rogue? Does the ending offer happiness or is the play’s title ironic? Many have noted the king’s ambiguous words, ‘All yet seems well’, and the conditional in Bertram’s promise: ‘If she, my liege, can make me know this clearly,/I’ll love her dearly, ever, ever dearly’.
Please note that Letterpress Shakespeare volumes are bound to order and may take up to 6 weeks to be delivered.
If you are a collector of all the volumes we have published so far in the series, we have reserved your individual limitation number for you.
Delivery of limited editions may take longer than standard editions. Please contact us for more information.
From the choice of text and meticulously designed pages to the mould-made paper and unsurpassed art of letterpress printing, attention has been lavished on every facet of the reading experience.
The result is a fit and harmonious balance between the internal and external: a volume which is not only a delight to look at and hold, but a joy to read; formed not for mere display, but to satisfy the passion for his language felt by all those who love Shakespeare.
Produced to the highest standards, using only the finest materials and processes, each volume is a work of art in its own right.
The layout of words on a printed page is as much an art as such ancient techniques as Chinese or Arabic calligraphy. Here, the text is designed by eye and set on a manual machine, not a computer. Each letter of type has been created from hot metal in the rarely used 16-point font of 'Monotype' Baskerville, chosen for its clarity and elegance of form. Tiny irregularities testify to the hand-crafted nature of the process, since the shape of each line, the very gap between letters, is adjusted by hand to create the most pleasing overall effect.
A book is a pleasure of many senses: the feel of it in the hands, even the smell of the leather and ink all contribute to the enjoyment. Running your fingers over the paper, the difference between letterpress and litho printing is instantly discernable. You can feel the indentation where each letter has been impressed into the mould-made paper. This high quality paper is made from cotton rags and wood fibres dried on a cylindrical mould which produces the feathered edge known as the ‘deckle’. The quarter-binding is of finest goatskin leather, dyed to a rich colour. The pattern on the hand-marbled paper sides is unique to each volume.
The craftsmen and women who work on these volumes are rightly proud of their involvement in the project. From the hand-sewing of the pages to the blocking of each label in 24-carat gold, few books have had such care lavished on them. You can be confident that these exceptional editions will give pleasure for generations to come.
Cotton mixed with pure wood fibres dries slowly on a cylindrical mould to make this specialist paper. When the sheets are removed, the feathered edge at the sides is called the 'deckle'. The high cotton content ensures the paper is stronger and will retain its distinctive quality for generations, which is why artists and galleries choose it for fine art prints and etchings. The pages are folded in sections of eight for a perfectly flat opening to the spine, and only the top edge is trimmed.
Top edge gilding is a traditional finish, protecting books' exposed tops from dust, moisture or atmospheric pollution. The three-quarter binding of finest Nigerian goatskin leather is dyed for an exact match, but the gold and scarlet pattern on the hand-marbled paper sides is unique to each volume, since the exact pattern of droplets can never be repeated.
Each volume is strictly limited in number and many are reserved for existing collectors. Total limitation 1,000. Each copy will be numbered on a limitation page.