What to book: ‘The Artful Book’ at the V&A Museum

Opening today at the National Art Library, this special exhibition celebrates 70 years of the Folio Society

© Binding illustration by Paul Cox from the Folio Society edition of ‘The Code of the Woosters’ by PG Wodehouse, 1996

This autumn, the V&A is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Folio Society, the world’s foremost publisher of illustrated books, with an exhibition showcasing some of its most celebrated works, including an illustrated edition of its first ever published title, an October 1947 edition of Tales by Tolstoy.

On display in the V&A’s National Art Library will be a collection of original artworks from the Folio Society Archives, accompanied by the books for which they were commissioned. Quentin Blake, Angela Barrett, Neil Packer, Geoff Grandfield and Charles Keeping are among the many artists featured in the exhibition, which will also incorporate a dedicated reading corner, where you can enjoy a range of titles and take a closer look at the original illustrations.

© Illustration by Anna and Elena Balbusso from The Folio Society edition of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Atwood, 2012

Visitors can browse a selection of materials showing the colourful history of the Society, dating back to its first meeting on 10 February 1947, when its founder Charles Ede embarked on a mission to produce “editions of the world’s great literature, in a format worthy of its contents, at a price within the reach of everyman”. The Society has remained true to that ambition until the present day; this year, it has seen six of its editions recognised in the prestigious British Book Production and Design Awards.

@ Illustration by Kate Baylay from The Folio Society edition of ‘Vile Bodies’ by Evelyn Waugh, 2015

The Folio Society exhibition is at the National Art Library at the V&A Museum from 5 September until 28 January 2018; admission is free.

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