MAPP co-founders and team members Claire Battershill and Helen Southworth have both recently published well-received books focusing on the concept of biography as it relates to Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press. Here is a brief introduction to both works, which epitomize the kind of rigorous historical research made possible through deep engagement with archival materials such as the ones MAPP curates on its continually-expanding site.
Surprisingly, I think I have only recently understood the full power of the bookshop. As a literature graduate and book lover it is perhaps no shock that bookshops are among my favourite places to spend time (and usually a small fortune!). I have loved many a bookshop, often in a quiet, personal way. Perhaps now more than ever, in a fast-paced and frequently impersonal society of online shopping, the almost sacred quality that bookshops can possess is particularly striking. What they offer, for me at least, is a haven of knowledge and creativity, going beyond that of a retail exploit. There is increasing academic interest in the role of the modernist bookshop at present, as shown by Huw Osborne's recent edited collection and Andrew Thacker's article in Modernist Cultures (11.3, 2016).
Beginning in that annus mirabilis of modern literature, 1922, and petering out in 1950, the letters between novelist E. M. Forster and the Hogarth Press provide a fascinating and extended glimpse of the relationship between one of England’s best novelists and his publishing agents. This trove of letters features discussions about the technical particulars of paper color and type, of distribution and copyright, but they also hint at personal details of the correspondents, most notably between Leonard Woolf and Forster, or “Morgan” as he’s addressed. Although most of the letters sent during this 28-year period focus on publishing and distribution, small details about the relationship between the two men peek through the negotiations and discussions about Forster’s book Pharos and Pharillon, published by Hogarth Press in May 1923. Both aspects of this collection are fascinating for scholars and students of modern publishing and literature.