Artists’ books and fine press

My Mackerel Lover by Carolyn Trant
My Mackerel Lover by Carolyn Trant, (Shelfmark: HS.74/1793) used with kind permission of Carolyn Trant.

We collect artists’ books and fine press publications from the UK. Our collections also include many important works from the Americas and Europe.

About the collection


These collections reflect the growth and innovation in artists’ books over the past 50 years. We hold extensive collections of published works by Ken Campbell, Carolyn Trant, Ron King, Christine Tacq, Ian Tyson, Natalie d’Arbeloff, D R Wakefield, and many others.

Our fine press collections date from the late 19th century to the present day, including the Hogarth Press, Old Stile Press, Circle Press, and Enitharmon Editions. We have extensive collections of visual poetry and concrete poetry, including more than 500 publications from Writers’ Forum.

We have the largest collection in the world of UK illustrated books, including children's literature and books produced by the Folio Society.

Americas and Europe

Our collections are particularly strong for the Americas, including works by Ulises Carrión, Enrique Chagoya, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Barbara Hodgson, Sol LeWitt, Angela Lorenz, Edward Ruscha, Cecilia Vicuña and Kara Walker. We also hold a selected sample of miniature books containing publications by Peter and Donna Thomas, Irene Chan, and Midnight Paper Sales & Flaming Cat Press, among others.

The Library holds a large selection of independent fine press books from the Americas, including the Arion Press, Heavenly Monkey, Yolla Bolly Press, Nawakum Press, Ninja Press, The Moving Parts Press, and the Codex Foundation; books by the Cuban publishers Ediciones Vigía and Cuadernos Papiro; and those by the Taller Leñateros collective in Chiapas. A guide to the Library’s US fine presses holdings, post-1945, may be found here.

We hold items created by major European artists who worked in this field. For example, the British Library holds an important collection of Russian Avant-Garde Books from the 1910s and 1920s, Russian neo-avant-garde books from the late 1980s, as well as a collection of book designs by the prominent Czech artist Josef Čapek.

What is available online?

All of our artists’ books and fine press publications are described on our online catalogue, Explore. Many can be found using the subject term ‘artists books’.

The Bookarts Newsletter is edited by Sarah Bodman at the University of the West of England, and includes details of new publications, fairs and research in the UK and around the world.

Our Oral History recordings of artists include book artists such as Ken Campbell and Ian Tyson.

Information on new acquisitions is regularly added to our English and Drama blog.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

All of our artists books and fine press publications are available to be ordered.

What is available in other organisations?

Other important collections of Artists Books in the UK include the National Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Tate Library.

Further information

Further reading:

Artists' Book Year Book. Shelfmark: ZC.9.b.6181

The Blue Notebook. Shelfmark: ZK.9.b.25182

Art Monthly. Shelfmark: P.421/733

Sarah Bodman, Creating Artists' Books, London: A&C Black, 2005. Shelfmark: YK.2005.a.11394

Book Arts Newsletter. Hardcopy at shelfmark: ZK.9.b.23115

P. A. H. Brown, Modern British and American private presses (1850-1965), London: British Library, 1976. Shelfmark: RAR094.4016 ENG Open Access. An alphabetic list of the modern private presses in the Library's collection.

Stephen Bury, Artists' Books: the book as a work of art, 1963-1995, Aldershot: Scolar Press, 1995. Shelfmark: YC.1996.b.1827

Roderick Cave, Fine Printing & Private Presses, London: British Library, 2001. Shelfmark: 2708.h.952. A selection of essays on the history of fine and private presses.

Roderick Cave, The Private Press, 2nd ed. New York: Bowker, 1983. Shelfmark: RAR 070.593 Open Access

Johanna Drucker, The Century of Artists' Books, New York: Granary Books, [1995] (2004 printing). Shelfmark: YD.2005.a.773

Jean Khalfa (ed.) The Dialogue between painting and poetry: livres d'artistes 1874-1999. Cambridge: Black Apollo Press, 2001. Shelfmark: YC.2002.a.10131

The Journal of Artists Books. U.S. journal that ran from 1994-2003. Shelfmark: ZA.9.b.2807

Matrix: a review for printers and bibliophiles. Shelfmark: Cup.510.dga.35

Parenthesis: the newsletter of the Fine Press Book Association. Shelfmark: ZC.9.b.7208

Individual Fine Presses & Book Artists, by jerry_jenkins