One of the first items to arrive at the newly purchased Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, was a Minerva Platen Printing Press, previously owned by Virginia and Leonard Woolf. This was the very press upon which a number of the seminal works of English Literature (including T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922) had been handset and printed by the Woolfs.
Upon arrival at Sissinghurst, Vita Sackville-West used the press to print a number of pieces, including the poem ‘Sissinghurst’, which she wrote for Virginia Woolf in 1930. That poem has been out of print for several years, but it deserves to reach a wider audience, with its themes of nature and beauty, age and obsolescence.
This blog charts our project to reprint the poem using traditional letterpress printing techniques. This project, generously funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will use a Minerva Printing Press which is an exact replica of the Hogarth Press. Based at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent, a group of volunteers will learn the techniques used by traditional letterpress printers, including hand typesetting, printing, binding and marbling. The finished poem – in the form of a booklet, will be available from the National Trust shop at Sissinghurst Castle, from October 2014.
As well as photos and journal entries from the volunteer participants, this blog will record the progress of the project, interviews with letterpress printers who have shared their experiences with us, and more.
We are very grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund, to Canterbury Christ Church University, and to the National Trust for making this project possible.