In 2016, the world celebrated William Shakespeare's four-hundredth anniversary. Students studied his plays, and theatres across the world put on productions, but in all the revelry, little notice was taken of the Bard's poetry. Shakespeare's 154 sonnets are considered among the greatest poetry of the English language and, indeed, considered by some to be the genesis of modern love poetry. These poems deserve their day in the sun!
We're publishing an edition of The Shakespeare Sonnets, laid out by our master typographers, printed letterpress on the finest stock, and hand-bound. In Shakespeare's time, publishing houses turned to their audiences to bring beautiful editions to life. We want to do just that: so Kickstarter, we need your help!
In his original introduction to our edition, Shakespeare scholar and Harvard University president Neil Rudenstine writes, "Shakespeare's Sonnets are the greatest single work of lyric poetry in English, and many individual poems are as powerful as those in any language. Yet they are scarcely read, except for the few that are regularly anthologized. This is not necessarily surprising. To be confronted confronted with 154 sonnets is a considerable challenge, especially if the poems are as complex as any work written by Shakespeare. The effort, however, is more than simply rewarding, because the sequence consists of love poetry that is passionate, intimate, daring, searing and lyrical as any that we may ever encounter."
Indeed, this is a volume that one simply must have.
We're Thornwillow Press, a small publishing house based in Newburgh, New York. Thornwillow is one of the last remaining fine presses in the world which makes by hand the volumes it publishes. We are dedicated to the art of bookmaking, and that means putting craft before profit.
We start with the layout. While most publishers' first concern is minimizing page count (to reduce printing costs), ours is readability and elegant design. Our books are laid out by our team of master typographers, using specially crafted fonts and centuries-old design techniques based on the golden ratio. We aspire to creating an unrivaled reading experience, to enhance the relationship between the reader and the written word. In this digital age when you can turn a book on and off with a switch, we believe that typography and layout matters.
Then comes the printing. Each page is printed letterpress, a technique dating back to Gutenberg and the first printing presses. The words are literally pressed into the paper on our historic Heidelberg press. Reading a letterpress book is an experience like no other: you feel the text as you run your finger across the page. We use only the finest archival ink and heavy stock. While trade paperbacks yellow and wither away, our books will last far longer than we will. For this reason, Thornwillow books are included among many of the world's great archival collections, including the Smithsonian, the Vatican, and the White House, to name only a few.
And then we bind each volume by hand. The pages are sewn together, and then bound in leather, letterpress paper wrappers, and paste papers, depending on the version. A great deal of time goes into the binding of each book, the quality of which you can feel when you hold one in your hand. If you've never experienced a hand-bound book before, this is an excellent place to start.
But this isn't just any hand-made edition: there are several elements which make it truly unique. An original introduction has been written for the volume by Harvard University president and Shakespeare scholar Neil Rudenstine. The colophon of each volume, regardless of version, is numbered and signed by the publisher. There are rubricated initials on a curated selection of sonnets which have come to be most celebrated.
As the face of publishing is mutating in the digital age, we aspire to bring back an ancient form of publishing—crowdfunded editions—and we are excited to start with a volume celebrating the Bard's quadricentennial, in a vessel worthy of the contents.
The edition will appear in four bindings.
We are offering The Shakespeare Sonnets in four unique bindings: in a paper-wrapper, in cloth, in half-leather, and in jeweled full-leather, each with its own stock.
- Paper Wrapper. The volume is bound in a letterpress paper wrapper. These will be limited to the number backed, plus one hundred. Each copy will be numbered by hand, and signed by the publisher.
- Cloth. The volume is hand-bound in a cloth and letterpress paper hardcover. These will be limited to the number backed, plus one hundred. Each copy will be numbered by hand, and signed by the publisher.
- Half-Leather. The volume is bound in exquisite Moroccan leather and handmade paste paper, with a leather spine label and handmade end papers. The volume comes in a suede-lined cloth clamshell box. These will be limited to an edition of one hundred as part of Kickstarter's MAKE 100. Each copy will be numbered by hand, and signed by the publisher and Prof. Rudenstine.
- Full-Leather. Fourteen copies will be bound in full-leather and set with cabochon gemstones. These copies are simply magnificent, and truly are unique. They play off the quadricentennial year.
1 6 1 6
One copy bound in yellow Moroccan leather and set with citrines.
Six copies bound in scarlet Moroccan leather and set with carnelians.
One copy bound in blue Moroccan leather and set with sapphires.
Six copies bound in purple Moroccan leather and set with amethysts.
We are offering two other rewards, playing off of our popular Broadside Library. The broadside—a one-sided print often posted on a wall—was an immensely popular form of communication in Shakespeare's day. What better way to celebrate him then collecting his poetry in this magnificent medium?
The Thornwillow Library
With this project, we are embarking on a new journey. We hope that this will be the first in a series of volumes, all dedicated to the art of bookmaking, to the preservation of important works, and to the ideal that fine books can be accessible.
For centuries, publishing an edition of a work was a steep investment, and so publishers collected subscribers who, together, brought editions to print. We hope to reinvent this model for the twenty-first century.
- Subscribers list. A subscribers list will accompany each volume, which lists the names of everybody who pledged $100 or more to bring the volume to life. As the library grows, returning subscribers will see their names rise in prominence on the list. It's our way of memorializing your part in the creation of these volumes. It simply couldn't happen without you.
- Title selection. As the library grows, our community of subscribers will help us select upcoming titles. Your suggestions for titles are appreciated, and with each upcoming volume, we will consult our community on the direction of the growing series.
- A partner in craft, culture and community. Thornwillow isn't just a business. In backing this publication, you are backing our commitment to Craft, Culture and Community. At Thornwillow we are dedicated to teaching and perpetuating the related arts and crafts of the written word and to providing job training and opportunities in a city that is in economic peril. Last year we established the Thornwillow Institute, a registered 501(c)3 public charity, with the goal of restoring and revitalizing our neighborhood and establishing a broader Thornwillow Makers Village that we hope will be a catalyst and resource for creativity and economic development.
More about Thornwillow.
In 1985 Thornwillow was founded by Luke Pontifell, then sixteen, who spent his summer vacations printing and hand binding books. What started as a labor of love has grown into one of the leading purveyors of specialty books and custom stationary in the United States, consolidating centuries of craft and technique under one roof in Newburgh , New York.
For nearly thirty years Thornwillow has been committed to enhancing the relationship between the reader and the written word. Our paper, printing, binding, and books are meant to be a lasting and powerful method of communicating and preserving ideas in the modern world. Ultimately, what we do is a very simple thing. It's black ink on white paper, and from that very simple combination, one can open up visions of the universe.
Risks and challenges
We have conducted two Kickstarter projects in the past. We do not foresee any specific challenges, but if they occur, we will communicate them with our backers, as well as our plan to stay on track for fulfillment.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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