The Library has just discovered a rather important bookplate by Talwin and Alice Morris, revealed during an audit of the folios in our bookstore. The bookplate depicts a pastoral scene of a young seated lady, reading books and accompanied by a cat and an hour glass. The landscape behind includes a river with setting sun and obelisk. Both Alice’s and Talwin’s initials are touchingly included in conjoined hearts above, with the motto “There lyeth more in ye telling than in ye tale” below.
Talwin Morris (1865-1911) is an important figure in the history and development of Glasgow Style design at the turn of the 20th century. He knew many people who attended the Glasgow School of Art, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh who he recommended as an architect to publisher Walter Blackie. The result of that commission is the celebrated Hill House in Helensburgh.
The Library holds a number of Glasgow Style bookbindings by Morris in its special collections, designed by him during his tenure as Art Director at Blackie & Son publishers. Between 1892 and 1909 Morris was a prolific designer of bindings for the company and its subsidiary, Gresham Publishing. He was hugely influential in moving design away from Victorian narrative bindings to a more modern Art Nouveau approach where line, curve and decoration are used to entice the reader.
Talwin married Alice, a prolific author and illustrator in her own right, in 1892. The Morris scholar and expert Gerald Cinamon exhibited this bookplate design in an exhibition devoted to Talwin Morris in 1983, held at the William Morris Gallery. He dates the design to 1893, and notes that its pastoral view of a river and setting sun may have been inspired by his and Alice’s recent move to their new home at Dunglass Castle on the Clyde.