Last week I drove with my colleague Christine to Bayeux, with the prototype of our new edition of The Bayeux Tapestry loaded in the back of the car. As those who read my earlier blog posts will remember, it is the first ever reproduction of the entire length of the tapestry as a single image, printed continuously on a scroll around 44 metres long – roughly two-thirds the size of the original. The scroll is mounted within a glass-topped table and is moved along by turning handles fitted in the side of the table.
The reason for our visit to Bayeux was to demonstrate the prototype to the delegates at a three-day academic colloquium there. Many had travelled from all around the world for this event, so it was a rare opportunity to nobble so many specialists at one time. Without wishing to be immodest, I think it can fairly be said that they were wowed. Exclamations such as ‘C’est merveilleux!’ and ‘Extraordinaire!’ were frequent, and there was widespread – and gratifying – incomprehension that what they were seeing was actually print on paper (albeit rather special printing on rather special paper) and not some magically conjured hand-sewn version of the tapestry itself.
This event was a sneak preview of the prototype for the delegates at Bayeux. The actual edition is being manufactured right now, and will go on sale in January, when details will be sent to all our customers. To be doubly certain that you hear about it as soon as it’s available, please register your interest at www.foliosociety.com/bayeux.
Meanwhile, other projects have been proceeding apace. One very close to my heart is the Poetic Edda, which we are publishing in November. Simon Noyes has been working for over a year on the illustrations, which are derived from rune stones and other Viking imagery. He brought in the final artwork the other day: every image seems to have been carved into raw rock, and has the primal quality of the poetry itself. Here, for example, is his illustration for stanza 40 of Grimnir’s Sayings: And here too is the relevant page of text – as you will see, the Old Norse appears alongside Carolyne Larrington’s English translation, and her informative notes appear on the same page as well. This unusual layout is intended to be as helpful and attractive as possible to readers; it was devised specially for this book, and has no precursers I am aware of. In April we will mark the centenary of Edward Thomas, who was killed at the Battle of Arras in 1917, with a new selection of his poems, printed letterpress on Zerkall paper. The illustrations are original lithographs by David Gentleman (pictured below), who will sign every copy of the book.
I took my camera down to The Curwen Studio the other day to record the proofing in progress; it is a place of calm creativity, where commercial considerations seem never to have intruded, and where the only objective is excellence. Here are some of the results: And finally, I recently had a call from Catalina Botello, who has been creating an online archive of the work of Derrick Harris, the artist probably best known for his immensely good-humoured engravings for The Folio Society in the 1950s, most notably for Tom Jones. Here is a link to the attractive and informative website: www.derrick-harris.com