T.S.Eliot – The Waste Land
Hogarth Press first edition book jacket designs
T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1923)
This was published three times in America before it appeared under the Hogarth Press imprint. First it had been published in Criterion (October 1922), the magazine of which Eliot himself was editor, which was funded by rich patroness Lady Rothermere. Then it was published in Dial the following month, still without the famous explanatory ‘notes’. Finally it was published in book form by Boni and Liveright in December 1922.
Eliot himself suggested that the explanatory notes were an addition of ‘bogus scholarship’ devised to bulk out the number of pages in an otherwise slim publication. Virginia Woolf set the entire poem in type herself. It was issued in an edition of 470 copies with blue marbled boards probably prepared by Vanessa Bell. T.S. Eliot earned £7 5s. in royalties.
The Waste Land went on to become one of the most famous texts of the modernist movement – along with Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and James Joyce’s Ulysses – and an iconic publication for modern poetry.
Hogarth Press studies
Woolf’s-head Publishing is a wonderful collection of cover designs, book jackets, and illustrations – but also a beautiful example of book production in its own right. It was produced as an exhibition catalogue and has quite rightly gone on to enjoy an independent life of its own. This book is a genuine collector’s item, and only months after its first publication it started to win awards for its design and production values. Anyone with the slightest interest in book production, graphic design, typography, or Bloomsbury will want to own a copy the minute they clap eyes on it.
Leonard and Virginia Woolf as Publishers: Hogarth Press, 1917-41 John Willis brings the remarkable story of Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s success as publishers to life. He generates interesting thumbnail sketches of all the Hogarth Press authors, which brings both them and the books they wrote into sharp focus. He also follows the development of many of its best-selling titles, and there’s a full account of the social and cultural development of the press. This is a scholarly work with extensive footnotes, bibliographies, and suggestions for further reading – but most of all it is a very readable study in cultural history.
Bloomsbury Group links
© Roy Johnson 2005
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