Private Presses and Libraries in Scotland and Ireland


Tour Date

Departure: October 12, 2019
Return: October 21, 2019
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Tour Description

This will be the second tour to focus principally on libraries, private presses and the often hidden treasures of private houses and museum print rooms. The first tour concentrated on collections in London, Oxford, and the Cotswolds, but next year we will go further afield starting in Ireland then crossing the water to Scotland. It will be a tour full of visual and literary delights.

Once again we will have a series of guides and lectures at the various locations and Peyton Skipwith will be with us for the entire time. In Ireland, we will also be accompanied by Mark Leslie, the founder of Martello Media, who has worked on award winning interactive exhibitions and installations throughout the world, including ‘The Life and Work of W.B. Yeats’. We will also be privileged to spend a night or two in his ancestral home, Castle Leslie.

Both Ireland and Scotland developed distinctive and subversive national twists to the Arts and Crafts Movement, which found expression in literature, stained glass, jewelry, illumination and architecture. Drawing on their respective national histories and legends Walter Scott in Scotland and W.B Yeats in Ireland wove a romantic and beguiling mythology, that to many became more real than the mundane facts of everyday history. From the ninth century Book of Kells to the early twentieth-century creations of Elizabeth Yeats’s Dun Emer and Cuala Presses, and Harry Clarke’s glowing illustrations in paint or stained glass, the legends of Ireland come alive. Just as they do in the romantic setting of Walter Scott’s Abbotsford, where we will be privileged to an evening reception.

Among the great libraries we will visit and get behind the scenes are those of two great nineteenth century houses – Mount Stewart in Ireland and Mount Stuart on the Isle of Bute in Scotland.

In contrast to these will be access to the extraordinary Keiller archive, one of the world’s finest collections of surrealist prints and manuscripts, now housed in an adjunct to Edinburgh’s National Gallery of Modern Art. While in Glasgow we will be given access to the remarkable collection of prints by James McNeill Whistler, presented to the University by his sister-in-law and executor shortly after his death.

For the last few nights, we will be based at Marchmont House, an amazing late-eighteenth century mansion on the Scottish borders enlarged a century ago by Robert Lorimer – the Scottish Lutyens. The house has recently been restored and contains, among its many treasures, a significant collection of Arts and Crafts furniture along with an archive of designs by such important practitioners as Ernest Gimson and Neville Neale. Not far from Marchmont is Robert Smail’s Printing Works, the oldest commercial press in the United Kingdom, now a living museum of printing history.

In addition to all these treats, we will be visiting collectors and dealers as well as artist-printmakers and graphic designers. In Edinburgh, we will also visit a church decorated by Phoebe Traquair, and in Glasgow ‘Mackintosh at the Willow’, the newly recreated Willow Tearooms by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.


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