You may have noticed a couple of new displays in GSA Library over the last few weeks. While one of these displays, the one on Level 1, is devoted to Anatomy, we have dedicated the other on Level 2 to Talwin Morris, Bookbinder.
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. After his death in 1911, Alice Morris sold to the Art School a number of books from his private library, and then again in 1937, some of which are now held in our Special Collections. The transactions are recorded in the letters featured in the display which are part of our Archives collection.
The bookbinding course has been a feature of the curriculum from the late 19th century until the present day. As explained in this description of the Bookbinding course in the School’s 1967/8 Prospectus, though bookbinding’s history at the School is long and mostly undiscovered, it was still very much alive as a discipline in the 1960s:
The ancient and lovely craft of Bookbinding, now almost threatened with extinction, gets its rightful place here. The course covers the whole aspect of craft bookbinding and includes the repairing of old binding, sizing and repairing of leaves, and gold tooling. Special attention is paid to sound construction. A few students with marked aptitude are encouraged to specialize in Bookbinding, while the great interest in and educational value of the craft are evidenced by the large numbers of those who take it as a subsidiary interest.