Curwen Press Archive

Cambridge University Library

The collection contains papers of the company and personal papers of Oliver Simon, Herbert Simon, and Basil Harley. These include correspondence; papers relating to specific printing jobs and to types, paper, printing processes, etc.; business papers; and specimens of printing.

Papers of Oliver Simon were acquired about 1970. These included, besides his own correspondence and records of the Fleuron and Signature, much printed matter from the Press.

The Curwen Press's own archives, not apparently systematically preserved, were acquired in 1984.

Papers of Herbert Simon were acquired from his son Robert in 1984. Besides his own papers and a further collection of Press ephemera, these included some original drawings for patterned papers.

Papers of Basil Harley were purchased in 1988.

Some other items were acquired from unidentified sources and from the clearance of the Curwen Press works.



Papers relating to the history of the Curwen Press


MS Add.9853/E1

Covering Dates


Extent and Medium

ca. 4 boxes

Content and context

Included are some papers of the company with particular historical reference; photographs; narratives including working papers for Herbert Simon's book Song and Words: a history of the Curwen Press (1973); and biographical material about Oliver and Herbert Simon and Harold Curwen.

Access and Use

Please cite as Cambridge University Library, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives, Curwen Press Papers, MS Add.9853

Further information

Basil Harley, The Curwen Press (1970)

Pat Gilmour, Artists at Curwen (1977), esp. 9-95 'The Curwen Press'

Alan Powers, Art and print: the Curwen story (2008)

Several articles in Matrix 5 (1985):

David McKitterick, 'Typograpahers tallied: the origin and growth of the Morison Room, Cambridge University Library', pp. 15-22, specif. 17-18 on Curwen

John Dreyfus, 'The Curwen Press collection in Cambridge University Library', 23-30 + 16 plates

Ian Mortimer, Curwen Press types and borders, 8 pp. before p. 33

Noel Carrington, 'Harold Curwen, master printer and craftsman', pp. 33-6.

Associated material. Some further archival material from the Curwen Press composing room was acquired by Ian Mortimer and then in 2010 by the Barbarian Press. An overview of this material is at:

This finding aid was prepared by J. F. Coakley in 2010.