University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


Between 1917 and 1932, Leonard and Virginia Woolf handprinted and published thirty-four books. Of these, all but one are present in the Hogarth Press Collection of the Special Collections Department. The books handprinted by the Woolfs constitute a microcosm of the overall output of the Hogarth Press and document the development of the Woolfs as printers and publishers in the early years of the Press.

For their handprinted efforts, the Woolfs selected and published works by themselves, their friends, and their acquaintances. Their first publication, Two Stories (1917), with woodcuts by Dora Carrington, contains "Three Jews" by Leonard and "The Mark on the Wall" by Virginia. Among their other writings which they handprinted are Virginia's Kew Gardens (1919), the immediate success of which, Leonard recalled, "led us, unintentionally and often reluctantly, to turn the Hogarth Press into a commercial publishing business," and Leonard's Stories of the East (1921), also with a cover design by Carrington.

The Woolfs were central figures in the Bloomsbury Group, and they handprinted and published a number of works from among the Group's members, including E.M. Forster's The Story of the Siren (1920), Roger Fry's Twelve Original Woodcuts (1921), and Clive Bell's The Legend of Monte Della Sibilla (1923), with illustrations by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. The Woolfs took great pleasure in publishing the works of T.S. Eliot, one of their closest friends, and they printed and published the first edition in book form of The Waste Land (1923). The Woolfs handprinted and published Katherine Mansfield's Prelude (1918) and Robert Graves's The Feather Bed (1923).

Two Stories. 1917.
Woodcuts by Dora Carrington. Contains "Three Jews" by Leonard Woolf and "The Mark on the Wall" by Virginia Woolf.
150 copies printed.

"We are very glad you like the book [Two Stories]. It is tremendous fun doing it, and we are now in treaty for a much larger press, and mean to take it up seriously and produce novels with it. . . . It has been quite a success."
Virginia Woolf to Violet Dickinson, July 21, 1917.

Prelude. 1918.
300 copies printed.

"K. M.'s story has a certain quality as a work of art besides the obvious cleverness, which made it worth printing, and a good deal better than most stories anyhow."
Virginia Woolf to Clive Bell, July 16, 1918.

Poems. 1919.
ca. 250 copies printed.

"The publication of T. S. Eliot's Poems must be marked as a red letter day for the Press and for us. . . . I never tired and still do not tire of those lines which were a new note in poetry and came from the heart of the Eliot of those days. . . ." Leonard Woolf, Beginning Again (1963).

Kew Gardens. 1919.
Woodcuts by Vanessa Bell. 150 copies printed.

"We came back from Asheham to find the table stacked, littered, with orders for Kew Gardens. They strewed the sofa and we opened them intermittently through dinner. . . . The pleasure of success was considerably damaged . . . by the necessity of getting some 90 copies ready, cutting covers, printing labels, glueing backs, and finally despatching, which used up all spare time and some not spare till this moment."
Virginia Woolf, from her diary entry for June 10, 1919.

The Story of the Siren. 1920.
Virginia Woolf set the type for this book. 500 copies printed.

"Too much to write as usual, but we work like navvies at binding Morgan [i.e. Edward Morgan Forster], & have no time for frivolity."
Virginia Woolf, from her diary entry for July 6, 1920.

Twelve Original Woodcuts. 1921.
150 copies printed.

"Roger again last night, scraping at his woodcuts while I sewed; the sound like that of a large pertinacious rat."
Virginia Woolf, from her diary entry for April 12, 1921.

Stories of the East LEONARD WOOLF.
Stories of the East. 1921.
Cover illustration by Dora Carrington. 300 copies printed. Unopened.

"The Daily Mail says that Leonard has written one of the greatest stories of the world ["Pearls and Swine" included in Stories of the East]. In consequence we are flooded with orders, and were photographed this morning for the Sphere. . . ."
Virginia Woolf to Vanessa Bell, May 13, 1921.

The Legend of Monte Della Sibilla. 1923.
Illustrations and cover designs by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. 400 copies printed.

"But I must descend to the basement, & see whats [sic] doing with Clive's cover; which Leonard does for 8 hours daily."
Virginia Woolf, from her diary entry for November 3, 1923.

The Waste Land. 1923.
ca. 460 copies printed.

"I have just finished setting up the whole of Mr Eliots [sic] poem with my own hands: You see how my hand trembles."
Virginia Woolf to Barbara Bagenal, July 8, 1923.

The Feather Bed ROBERT GRAVES.
The Feather Bed. 1923.
Cover design by William Nicholson. Number 210 of 250 copies signed by the author.

". . . here is Leonard with the title page of the Feather Bed, a poem in the manner of Browning by Robert Graves. We are printing all day long, Mrs. Joad [assistant at the Press, 1923-25] and I, while Leonard goes to his office."
Virginia Woolf to Gerald Brenan, May 13, 1923.

Parallax. 1925.
Covers designed by Eugene McCown. 420 copies printed. Unopened.

Virginia Woolf may have selected the title for this poem herself, as well as set the type.

Russet and Taffeta. 1925.
ca. 300 copies printed.

The title page bears the first use of the wolf's head device designed by Vanessa Bell.

Poems and Fables. 1925.
ca. 300 copies printed.

"We would like to print your poems, and think we ought to keep it a small book, which we could print ourselves. Thus, it would be better to leave out the Prelude to the long poem. . . . The poems you left with me would make about the right length for printing ourselves; anything longer would mean waiting a considerable time."
Virginia Woolf to R. C. Trevelyan, January 1925.

Voltaire. 1927.
ca. 250 copies printed.

The title page is printed with a double rule across Gottschalk, Riding's married name. The reasons for this curious anomaly are unknown. Riding may have been trying to disassociate herself from her husband, whom she left in 1926. Or perhaps the Woolfs were unaware of Riding's wish to drop her husband's name, and the title page correction was an attempt to rectify the error at the last minute. William Nicholson may have designed the frontispiece.

On Being Ill. 1930.
Jacket designed by Vanessa Bell. Number 250 of 250 signed copies.

"As one of the guilty parties I bow to your strictures upon the printing of On Being Ill. I agree that the colour is uneven, the letters not always clear, the spacing inaccurate, and the word 'campion' should read 'companion'.
"All I have to urge in excuse is that printing is a hobby carried on in the basement of a London house; that as amateurs all instruction in the art was denied us; that we have picked up what we know for ourselves; and that we practise printing in the intervals of lives that are otherwise engaged. In spite of all this, I believe that you can already sell your copy for more than the guinea you gave, as the edition is largely over subscribed, so that though we have not satisfied your taste, we hope that we have not robbed your purse."
Virginia Woolf to an unidentified correspondent, December 10, 1930.

Sissinghurst. 1931.
Number 88 of 500 copies signed by the author.

"Well, that is a nice good poem. Yes, I like it. I like its suavity and ease; and its calm; and its timelessness and shade; and its air of rings widening widening till they imperceptibly touch the bank. Thats [sic] what I like best in your work."
Virginia Woolf to Vita Sackville-West, November 16, 1930.

Jupiter and the Nun. 1932.
Wellesley's book was the last of the Woolf's handprinted productions. 360 copies printed, of which 250 are numbered and signed by the author. This copy is out of series.
Monday or Tuesday VIRGINIA WOOLF.
Monday or Tuesday. 1921.
Woodcuts and cover design by Vanessa Bell. Hand-set and printed by a local job printer named McDermott, with Leonard Woolf's assistance. 1,000 copies printed.

"My book is back from the printer, who has added the final eyesore - a brown back. There it is in masses, & I can't read it, for fear of howlers, printers as well as writers."
Virginia Woolf, from her diary entry for March 6, 1921.

Introduction Commercial Translations Series The Present

Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page

This page is maintained by Special Collections

Last modified: 12/21/10
  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014