Kelmscott Chaucer Online Launched

Michael John Goodman, Kelmscott Chaucer Online, www.KelmscottChaucerOnline

The Kelmscott Chaucer

A new online resource allows readers to explore what is considered to be one of the most beautiful books ever produced, the Kelmscott Chaucer.

Put together by independent researcher, writer and educator Dr Michael John Goodman, The Kelmscott Chaucer Online contains all 87 woodcut illustrations by Edward Burne-Jones, plus the 18 frames, 14 borders, and 26 decorative words designed by William Morris for their final project published in 1896. Users are free to download, browse, share, remix, research, or use this website in whatever ways they can imagine. There is also a downloadable Kelmscott Chaucer Online Colouring Book available from the site.

The project continues Dr Goodman's previous work on major collections including the Charles Dickens Illustrated Gallery (which contains all the original illustrations from Charles Dickens's novels), and the Victorian Illustrated Shakespeare Archive (similarly open-access, with more than 3,000 illustrations from the most significant illustrated Shakespeare editions in the Victorian period). 

The Kelmscott Chaucer Online enables readers to examine all the visual aspects of the book including the illustrations, borders, frames, and illustrated capitals). The images have been scanned at a high resolution and can be magnified easily. 

"The Kelmscott Chaucer is very much a book to be looked at rather than read," said Dr Goodman. "Obviously, nothing can replace the experience of studying the material book itself, but I hope that this website makes the Kelmscott Chaucer accessible in a way that is both playful and user-friendly. To paraphrase William Morris, I hope users find the website 'beautiful and useful'."

Only 425 copies of the Kelmscott Chaucer were originally produced, plus 13 copies printed on vellum and 48 bound in pig's skin. The edition used for this project is a facsimile from the 1950s.