The Letterpress Pericles book

The Letterpress Pericles

William Shakespeare

One of Shakespeare's most confounding plays. Co-written with George Wilkins its tragic story is lightened with a dynamic cast of characters and risque dialogue.

Published price: US$ 495.00

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The Letterpress Pericles

'This world to me is but a ceaseless storm
Whirring me from my friends'
Sc 15.

Virtue and vice, truth and falsehood, chaos and harmony: all are presented in absolute terms in Pericles, Prince of Tyre. Jointly written with George Wilkins, this is one of Shakespeare’s most unusual plays. When Pericles discovers a dangerous secret at the court of Antiochus, he must flee for his life. Shipwrecked at Pentapolis, he is rescued and weds the Princess Thaisa. When told that his wife has died in childbirth, Pericles gives the infant Marina away, but his despair is compounded when he discovers that she too has apparently died – a grief that renders him speechless.

An intriguing tragicomedy, Pericles shares much with other late Shakespearean plays such as The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale: vengeance of the gods, familial love, and the miraculous power of redemption. What sets it apart is the play’s dynamic and ribald narrative that made it one of the most popular plays in the canon in Shakespeare’s lifetime.

Production Details

The Letterpress Pericles 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.
  • Oxford University Press text under the General Editor Stanley Wells.
  • 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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