Russell Maret, 2017 printer-in-residence at the Bodleian, led a seminar looking at old and new printings of Shakespeare. Participating were some of the printers who had contributed to the Bodleian’s new collection of Shakespeare’s sonnets printed in 2016. The group discussed questions of fidelity to the early printed texts, artistic interpretation, and personal responses to the poems.
The seminar examined new and old: the earliest edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets (1609) and the First Folio edition of his plays (1623), and a selection of the 2016-printed sonnets, each presenting one 14-line poem in a different format including:
Number 81: with a delicate decoration of gothic arches
Number 74: resembling an obituary broadside, aptly commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death
Number 62: alternating lines of black and red giving original and modernized spelling
Number 50: in a wooden Old West wrapper
Number 25: on coloured paper with a calligraphic Spanish translation curving around the printed English
Number 15: on red paper, text set in Perpetua, with lines 6 and 7 picked out in Mila Script, and a flower-seed illustration
Number 3: fully linocut, with the last two lines depicted as a reflection in water
Number 27: in old style; type-written; and in binary code
Numbers 5&6: using a facsimile of the Doves Press type, referencing the Doves Press 1909 edition of the Sonnets
Number 28: several copies on beer-mats in two colours
This last sparked thoughts of adjourning the seminar, but there was some work to do first. The printers’ expertise was put to work at the Bodleian’s Bibliographical Press to make a keepsake of the occasion; lines from King Lear in three colours, with unlocked type interpreting loosening coherence.
Peter Rukavina, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, printed Sonnet 99 for the Bodleian’s appeal for Shakespeare’s sonnets printed by any means of relief printing in 2016, the 400th anniversary of the poet’s death. The images below, supplied by Peter Rukavina, indicate the process. The finished product can be seen in this animation, by Adam Koszary. https://youtu.be/2LHpc0kFzss
Sonnet 99, Peter Rukavina, Reinvented Press, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Letterpress printed on a Golding Jobber No. 8 Press.
This series is called, ‘Figures of delight,’ after the title given to Sonnet 98 by Ken Burnley, Silver Birch Press. NOTE – missing sonnets will be supplied in the correct place as soon as photos are made!