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.
The Letterpress Hamlet uses traditional methods of printing and binding to create the most beautiful and lasting reading edition of Hamlet in existence. Based on the Oxford University Press text, this edition is a fine tribute to Shakespeare’s masterpiece. With the volume left uncluttered by notes, an accompanying commentary volume reproduces the text with full explanatory notes.
It is beautiful to look at on the shelf or in the box, but this edition is more than simply a fine binding or luxurious materials worked by skilled craftsmen and artists.
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.
'Let me be cruel, not unnatural;
I will speak daggers to her, but use none. '
Act 3, Sc. 2
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.
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.
Read more about the life and work of William Shakespeare
Delivery of limited editions may take longer than standard editions. Please contact us for more information.
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.
Letterpress printing today is used only for the very finest, private press publishing. Running your fingers over the rag-content paper, letterpress is instantly distinguishable from commercial litho printing. You can feel the indentation where each letter has been impressed into the mould-made paper.
To make these beautiful books The Folio Society is calling upon the full resources of a range of artist-craftsmen.
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. For Ann Muir, marbling the paper for the individual books of Shakespeare's four great tragedies will take nearly half a year of continuous labour.
The small craft bindery of Lachenmaier in Germany has won a record number of prizes in the 125 years it has been binding fine art and speciality books. There, an experienced team of craftsmen sew, case in and bind the book. Both the spine and separate leather label for the solander box are hand-blocked in 22-carat gold.
Allowing the beautiful reading volume to remain uncluttered by notes, this commentary volume reproduces the Oxford University Press text with full glossing and explanatory comments. Edited by Professor G. R. Hibbard under the General Editor Stanley Wells, this text has become a byword for rigorous scholarship. Professor Hibbard's illuminating introduction provides an exceptionally thorough textual and historical overview of Hamlet, making this one of the most highly respected of all academic editions.
Review by bcapstick on 11th Feb 2013
"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]