The Poems of Shakespeare

for the eleventh book of the Kelmscott Press, William Morris turned to another hero from England's literary past, William Shakespeare. This edition of Shakespeare's poems was edited by Frederick S. Ellis, one of the most influential associates of the press and editor of fifteen of its volumes. Ellis and Morris agreed on the then controversial point that Shakespeare's original spelling had to be preserved and not updated for the modern reader. Ellis later reported that his text had come under considerable criticism for several textual errors. Nevertheless, the book quickly became one of the most difficult Kelmscott volumes to purchase because of its popularity with collectors. The 500 copies printed by the press were completed in January 1893 and quickly sold.

The Lear Center copy is bound in the original limp vellum wrapper with green cloth ties at the foreedge and gold lettering on the spine. There are several remarkable associations with this copy. On the last binder's leaf the book is inscribed to H.M. Ellis from his father, February 17, 1893. The father in question was Frederick Ellis, the editor of the volume. It was purchased at auction by the London bookseller B.F. Stevens and Brown in 1920. They seem to have subsequently sold it to the novellist Hugh Walpole who lived a few blocks from their Covent Garden shop. Walpole then inscribed the volume to the poet John Drinkwater in 1924. The book was purchased for the Library with the Palmer Room Memorial Fund.


cover title page page one colophon
Drinkwater Bookplate Inscription First Page Colophon