The Letterpress Henry V  book

A Folio Society limited edition

The Letterpress Henry V

William Shakespeare

In Shakespeare's most patriotic play, young prince Hal is now a king taking his army into a seemingly unwinnable war, culminating in the legendary battle of Agincourt

Published price: US$ 545.00


The Letterpress Henry V

'A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene'
Henry V, Prologue

Henry V’s address to his troops on St Crispin’s Day is among the most famous verse in all Shakespeare. It is a speech that embodies the spirit of the play in which the civil unrest of the previous History plays has been replaced by a portrait of the nation united in war against France. Henry V is Shakespeare’s most heroic warrior king, but for all the stirring verse, there is romance, humour and vivid depictions of the horrors of war.

Production Details

The Letterpress Henry V  book
  • Limited to 1,000 copies, individually numbered on a special limitation page.
  • Quarter-bound in goatskin leather, blocked in gold with hand-marbled paper sides; gilded top edge and ribbon marker.
  • Set in 16pt 'Monotype' Baskerville, printed by letterpress on mould-made paper.
  • Presented in a buckram-bound solander box with a commentary volume which includes the text of the play with full explanatory notes.
  • Box measures 15" x 11" x 2¾".
  • Letterpress volume book size: 14" x 10¾".
  • Commentary volume book size: 8¼" x 5¾".

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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