University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Seventy Years at the Hogarth Press:

The Press of Virginia and Leonard Woolf

Three Guineas

An Exhibition in the Special Collections Gallery

Curated by Max Yela

May 15 - September 30, 1987

Hugh H. Morris Library
University of Delaware
Newark, Delaware

The Waves

Copyright Statement

Hand Printed Books


The Series

Commercial Publications

1946 to the Present

Nineteen eighty-seven marks the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Hogarth Press. The Press, founded in 1917 by Leonard and Virginia Woolf, was originally intended as a hobby for its founders, and, particularly for Virginia, as a diversion from the pressures of writing. Starting with a small handpress in the dining room of the Woolfs' home, Hogarth House in Richmond, Surrey, the Press emerged as a full-fledged, commercial publishing enterprise following the unexpected success in 1919 of Virginia's Kew Gardens. The fame of the Hogarth Press is closely associated with the literary reputation and influence of its celebrated owners, and the importance of the Press in the history of twentieth-century literature and publishing stems from the writings to which the Woolfs gave an audience.

With a publishing program based on their personal vision, the Woolfs published new and experimental works by relatively unknown writers, such as Katherine Mansfield, T.S. Eliot, Clive Bell, C. Day Lewis, Robert Graves, E.M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood, John Maynard Keynes, William Plomer, Vita Sackville-West, and, of course, the Woolfs themselves. They published first English translations of contemporary foreign works, and brought Freud and the papers of the International Psycho-Analytical Institute to the English reading public. In addition, through a number of series covering topics that ranged from literature and poetry to politics and economics, the Press provided the general reading public with affordable booklets by well-known writers and critics of the day, including Eliot, Keynes, Roger Fry, Gertrude Stein, Robinson Jeffers, and H.G. Wells. The Press also provided avenues of expression for many artists, photographers, illustrators and designers, including John Banting, Vanessa Bell, Dora Carrington, Roger Fry, Duncan Grant, and E. McKnight Kauffer.

The Hogarth Press was owned and operated by Leonard and Virginia from its inception to the end of 1938, when Virginia relinquished her interest as a partner in the business. In 1939, John Lehmann, who had served as an assistant at the Press, filled the partnership vacated by Virginia, and he and Leonard Woolf managed the Press until 1946, when Lehmann terminated his partnership, and Leonard sold Lehmann's share to the directors of Chatto & Windus, and it has continued to publish in the tradition of Leonard and Virginia Woolf.

Between 1917 and 1946, the Hogarth Press published 525 titles. Of these, over 400 are represented in the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library in first and later editions. The core of this collection was acquired from J. Howard Woolmer, the Hogarth Press bibliographer, upon completion of the first edition of his Checklist of the Hogarth Press (1976), and significant additions have been made over the past decade. Numerous titles published by Chatto & Windus can also be found in both Special Collections and the general collections of the University of Delaware Library. The exhibition, "Seventy Years at the Hogarth Press," which coincides with the publication of a new, expanded edition of Woolmer's Checklist of the Hogarth Press (1986), provides an opportunity to view over seventy selections from this comprehensive collection of Hogarth Press publications at the University of Delaware Library. "Seventy Years at the Hogarth Press" also provides an occasion to celebrate the heritage and achievement of Leonard and Virginia Woolf's homespun publishing venture.

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