The Letterpress Much Ado About Nothing book

A Folio Society limited edition

The Letterpress Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare

One of Shakespeare's most joyful comedies. The sparkling repartee between Beatrice and Benedick makes their relationship one of the best-loved in literature.

Published price: US$ 545.00


The Letterpress Much Ado About Nothing

Benedick: 'Come, I will have thee. But by this light, I take thee for pity.'

Beatrice:'I would not deny you. But by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life, for I was told you were in a consumption.'
Act 5, Sc. 4

The quick, coequal wits of Beatrice and Benedick have made their relationship one of the most beloved in literature, from their first quarrelsome banter and the comic trick which initially attracts each to the other to the final skirmish which can only end with: Peace, I will stop your mouth. They are the perfect foil to the romantic ideas of Claudio, who despite all his professions of love for Hero is easily conned into believing her unfaithful. Dogberry and his watchmen with their malapropisms and confusions remain some of the funniest of Shakespeare’s comic creations.

Production Details

The Letterpress Much Ado About Nothing 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 together with a commentary volume which includes the text of the play with full explanatory notes.

Supplied in a buckram-bound solander box measuring 15" x 11" x 2¾". Letterpress volume: 14" x 10¾".

Commentary volume: bound in buckram. 8¾" 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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