Section 4: The Hogarth Press
On a March afternoon in 1917, Virginia and Leonard Woolf purchased a small handpress from the Excelsior Printing and Supply Company in London. Neither had any training in printing. Undaunted, they bought a do-it-yourself booklet and some Caslon Old Face Roman type, and taught themselves. The Hogarth Press was born.
Virginia took the role of compositor (setting the type), while Leonard arranged the pages, applied the ink, and performed the manual labor of printing. Then Virginia bound the books. The process was very slow. They soon hired an assistant and began contracting with another printer for larger runs, though Woolf continued to set type for the first six years.
In addition to publishing all of Woolf’s books, the Hogarth Press developed an extensive list that included other modernist literature, radical political tracts, and psychoanalysis.