Emery Walker’s House, a museum/house in Hammersmith devoted to the printer/typographer is opening its first exhibition next week, displaying examples of the most beautiful private press books ever published.
The exhibition will show off Walker’s revolutionary book printing techniques and legacy in his former home in Hammersmith, charting Walker’s career as a typographer and printer at a time when huge advances were being introduced in the production of books to keep up with demand from an increasingly literate Victorian society.
Walker was one of the first printers to create plates from photographs, rather than using the laborious hand-carved processes which dated back to the 15th century. He founded his own company in Fleet Street in 1886, specialising in reproducing works of art and photographs as book illustrations.
Highlights from the exhibition include double-page spreads from the Kelmscott Chaucer and Doves Bible – the two masterpieces of those presses. Another high point is The Odyssey, translated by T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’), a close friend of the Walker family, now regarded as one of the most beautiful private press books of the 20th century. This was Walker’s final achievement, printed just a year before his death.
Other exhibits, some of which have never before been on public display, will give insights into the various stages of book production and its development.
On display will be proof pages, and an uncut Kelmscott Press printing block, demonstrating the fruitful collaboration between Walker and his great friend William Morris. A recent donation from a local mudlark of the missing Doves Press type, now resurrected from its watery grave in the Thames, will be displayed for the first time.
The new exhibition space at 7 Hammersmith Terrace has been years in the planning as the House’s Curator Helen Elletson explains “Since the Emery Walker Trust was set up over 20 years ago, we’ve always aspired to create an exhibitions programme. This long-held ambition has now been realised.”
The exhibition is included in the 1 hour guided tours of the entire house and riverside garden from 12 August 2021 until the end of May 2022.
The House is open on Thursday and Saturdays only, by pre-booked guided tour, and tickets need to be booked in advance from here.