Special Collections: Book Arts

Poems by John Keats (1898) with bookbinding by Ann Macbeth (GSA Library, Special Collections)

GSA Library holds a large collection of titles representing the book arts in their widest sense, from illustration to cover design. The collection extends from the early nineteenth century right up to contemporary times, and documents how approaches to the book arts have changed during this period. The book designs of Talwin Morris can be found in our Talwin Morris Collection.

The Book Arts at GSA

There is a long-established tradition of book design at GSA. It was one of the five subjects first taught at the GSA Technical Art Studios when they were established in 1898. Hence, many names associated with the early history of the School were active in the book arts, particularly women for whom freelance commissions from publishers represented an opportunity to circumvent the often male-dominated world of the art academies. These included Annie French, Jessie Newbery, and Katharine Cameron. We also hold nearly all of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s documented designs for the book.

The collection includes a large number of designs by Jessie M. King, who had studied at the School from 1892 to 1899 and became a highly prolific illustrator and designer of books, working with a number of publishers both at home and abroad. Her first success came with designs for Globus, a Berlin-based publisher who had asked GSA Head Master Francis Newbery to recommend an artist working in the fast-developing ‘Glasgow Style’. Newbery also appointed King a student-teacher in the Department of Bookbinding and Decoration around this time. In 1902 she was awarded a Gold Medal at the Esposizione Internazionale d’Arte Decorativa Moderna in Turin for her book designs. She went on to design more mass-market designs that could be reproduced in different materials and colourways for publishers such as Collins, Routledge, T. N. Foulis, David Bryce, John Lane, Frederick Muller, Gowans & Gray, and J. M. Dent.

Digital Volumes

We have digitised a selection of volumes from this collection, which you can view online or download.