Weimar: Cranach Press, 1930
[S.L.] III [Cranach Press – 1930] fol.
“One of the most beautiful books ever printed”, is how Sylvia Lynd reviewed this edition of Hamlet in The News Chronicle, while the Observer’s reviewer called it a work of perfect craftmanship. The book is considered to be a masterpiece of Harry Kessler’s Cranach Presse, and a milestone of twentieth-century private printing more broadly. Its artist, Edward Gordon Craig (1872-1966), who acted Hamlet on several occasions and co-directed the play, suggested its printing in 1911. Fruition followed only in 1930, first in German and, ten months later with six additional engravings, in English. Editorially it was no mean feat, edited from the second quarto by Shakespearean scholar John Dover Wilson (co-editor of the New Cambridge Shakespeare), and accompanied by the Hamlet story in Saxo Grammaticus and Belleforest with their English translations. But the triumph is above all in the production: the title cut by Eric Gill; the type designed by Edward Johnston, based on that used by Fust and Schoeffer in the Mainz psalter of 1457; and especially Craig’s wood engravings in varying tones which interpret as well as illustrating the text.