A Short and Beautiful Life

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The origins of the Shakespeare Head Press date to the 1860s, when a young Arthur Henry Bullen, dreamt of printing the whole of Shakespeare. Making his dream a reality, Bullen founded the Shakespeare Head Press in 1904 in an old Tudor house, where Shakespeare would have been a guest. There are many backstories associated with the Shakespeare Head Press and of the perennial dashed hopes of small presses', which plagued Bullen. When the Press passed to Basil Blackwell (1921), Bullen's mantle was assumed by the scholar-printer Bernard Newdigate. For twenty years, he produced a series of finely printed books, yet these were not commercially successful. Blackwell blamed the commodification of literature, and the metamorphoses of books from handcrafted works of art to manufactured objects. This book reconstructs the lives of Bernard Newdigate and A.H. Bullen, and that of the Shakespeare Head Press.