The Letterpress Hamlet book

A Folio Society limited edition

The Letterpress Hamlet

William Shakespeare

Shakespeare's greatest play - the tragedy of Hamlet has become the most widely published work in the world, after the Bible.

Published price: US$ 495.00 US$ 330.00   Saving: US$ 165.00 (33%)

Limited stock: 40 left


The Letterpress Hamlet

Generally regarded as Shakespeare’s greatest play, Hamlet has been published in countless editions over the centuries. Yet few of them reflect the beauty of the words on the printed page. For this reason The Folio Society has drawn on its legacy of expertise in typography, printing and binding, to create an edition of Hamlet that delights the eye as well as the mind.

'When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions'
Act 4, Sc. 5

In the 400 years since it was first performed, Hamlet has become the most widely published work in the world, after the Bible. Yet in all that time, there has never been a finer, more lucid edition than this.

Production Details

The Letterpress Hamlet book
  • Hand-bound in goatskin leather, blocked in gold; with hand-marbled paper sides.
  • Set in 16pt 'Monotype' Baskerville, with Caslon display.
  • Presented in a buckram-bound solander box 15" x 11" x 2¾", 136 pages.
  • Edited by Professor G. R. Hibbard under the General Editor Stanley Wells.
  • Commentary volume is bound in buckram, size: 8¾ x 10¾".

Creating The Letterpress Shakespeare

Since the First Folio in 1623 there have been countless editions of Shakespeare's works. The Folio Society wanted to do something unprecedented: to design an edition so pure, so simple, that the beauty of the text could be fully appreciated - an edition that would be as timeless as the text itself.

What would the ideal version of Shakespeare's works look like? What would result if simplicity and elegance were the goal rather than the dictates of fashion and cost efficiency?

These were the questions we asked ourselves when we embarked on our Letterpress Shakespeare series in 2006. The project was to occupy some of Europe's finest book designers, typesetters, paper-makers, printers and bindersfor eight years.

The starting point was the text. Rather than keep text and commentary together, we decided to put them into separate volumes. Out went the elements that clutter the page : footnotes and textual variants. All that was left was Shakespeare's words.

We decided to have the text printed by letterpress in 16-point Baskerville. The type is set in hot metal and impressed on thick, mouldmade paper. The margins are generous - over 6 centimetres - to allow the words room to breathe.

The result is a simple, understated design that is a delight to read and a pleasure to hold.

Read more about how we made the Letterpress Shakespeare

Inside the letterpress process

Stan Lane, a master Typesetter and Printer, talked to us about the process of printing our letterpress Shakespeare. Lane has been setting type for The Folio Society for 25 years and is one of the few craftsmen still skilled in the fine art of letterpress printing. Although labour-intensive, letterpress has a depth and elegance that modern printing cannot replicate.

Jemma Lewis talked to us about the process of hand marbling paper for the letterpress Shakespeare. In this beautiful process droplets of oil are floated on a special solution and combed into patterns so that each sheet of paper bears a unique design. 


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Review by anon on 28th Aug 2017

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating: 5/5

"I just received my copies of the Letterpress Hamlet and Macbeth. They are so magnificent! How I wish all books were made like this again. Absolutely stellar, beautiful binding and printing. I real..." [read more]

Review by bcapstick on 11th Feb 2013

Text: Illustrations: Binding: Rating: 5/5

"I bought my Letterpress edition of "Hamlet' despite protests from the family, who pointed out that a Kindle version of Shakespeare's masterpiece could be had for a relatively modest 69p. I did so in ..." [read more]

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