Fleece Press Archive

Scope and Content

The material in the archive falls into two principal categories: materialrecording the processes of the planning, designing, printing and publicationof books and ephemera by Simon Lawrence, principally through the Fleece Press;also material relating to the financial operation of the Fleece Press.

By far the largest part of the archive (FLE/1) is a series of discreetsub-series which record all aspects of the production and publication of individualbooks. This material includes correspondence with those contributing to theproduction and publication of the books: authors; engravers of wood blocksto be printed as illustrations; through lending material from which printswere made; as bookbinders and paper makers; as typesetter; as advisors; etc.The correspondence also includes material concerned with the books after publication.This series also includes: proof sheets of prints and text; annotated texts;manuscript notes by Simon Lawrence; paste-up versions of books; make-readiesfor prints; sample paper and bindings.

Further series in the archive include: material similar to that withinFLE/1 but recording the development of projects which have not yet or didnot reach the stage of publication (FLE/2); collections, both loose and inbound volumes, of printed ephemera produced, principally, at the Fleece Pressand compiled by Simon Lawrence (FLE/3); the records of non-book printing undertakenor commissioned by Simon Lawrence (FLE/4).

Also included are financial records of the Fleece Press (FLE/6).

Research potential

The archive would be of interest to researchers working in the fields of:the history of the private press in England in the late twentieth and earlytwenty-first centuries; wood engraving in the UK in the twentieth and earlytwenty-first centuries, particularly the work of Margaret Wells (FLE/1/8), Leon Underwood (FLE/1/12), Claughton Pellew (FLE/1/14), Agnes Miller Parker (FLE/1/26), Joan Hassall (FLE/1/28), Paul Nash (FLE/1/29), Reynolds Stone (FLE/1/32), John Buckland Wright (FLE/1/35 and 39) and Gwen Raverat (FLE/1/43); the processes of hand printing and letterpress printing; the productionand publication of limited edition books in England in the late twentiethand early twenty-first centuries.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Fleece Press is a private printing press and publisher, owned and runby Simon Lawrence. The press publishes books in limited editions that haveusually included illustrations printed from wood-engravings.

Simon Lawrence produced his first book (S. T. E. Lawrence: Boxwood Blockmaker. Wood-engravings collected in honour of his eightieth birthday, Wakefield: Simon Lawrence, printed by the Whittington Press, 1980) in 1980as an eightieth birthday gift for his grandfather, Stanley T. E. Lawrence.Stanley Lawrence then ran the family firm of T.N. Lawrence and Son, whichsupplied equipment, including woodblocks, for printers and engravers.

A number of the early books published by Simon Lawrence were printed atthe Whittington Press, but he also began to hand print pamphlets and booksat his parents' home in Wakefield, Yorkshire. The first of these to be publishedwas The Death of Charles Stothard. An eyewitnessaccount, with an introduction by Richard Knowles, published under the BoxTree Press imprint in 1981. In 1984 Simon Lawrence acquired workshop premisesin Wakefield and the first book under the Fleece Press imprint was published(The Press, That Villainous Engine by AndrewMarvell. Wood engravings by Peter Forster, Wakefield: Fleece Press, 1984).The Fleece Press moved to new premises at Cawthorne, Barnsley, in 1997.

Whilst still hand printing books by letterpress methods at his own premises,Simon Lawrence also began to design and publish books printed on a four-colourpress by other printers. This has allowed him to develop the form and thecontent of Fleece Press books to include colour illustration and photography.However, he remains committed to continuing to print books featuring printsfor wood engraving that are printed by the letterpress method.


The arrangement of the archive reflects the order in which it was maintained by its creator.

The series are arranged as follows:

  • FLE/1 Published works
  • FLE/2 Unpublished and unfinished projects
  • FLE/3 Printed ephemera
  • FLE/4 Other printing projects (non-book)
  • FLE/5 Miscellaneous
  • FLE/6 Financial records

Access Information

Access is by appointment only. Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections at the Sir Kenneth Green Library are open from 10.00am - 4.00pm, Monday - Friday. Please contact: The Special Collections Archivist, Manchester Metropolitan University, Sir Kenneth Green Library, All Saints, Manchester, M15 6BH; tel: +44 (0)161 - 247 6159; e-mail: library-archives@mmu.ac.uk.

Acquisition Information

The first deposit was made by Simon Lawrence in 1999.

Other Finding Aids

Full catalogue available in the reading room, Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright remains with Simon Lawrence.

Correspondence copyright rests with the author. Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents. All items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Special Collections Archivist.

Custodial History

The archive remained in the possession of the creator until it was acquired by the repository in 1999.


It is anticipated that this will be an accruing archive.

Related Material

See also the Book Design collection also at Manchester Metropolitan University Library for Fleece Press publications.


Butcher, David, Simon Lawrence & the Fleece Press, in The Private Library, Summer 1987, 3rd Series, vol. 10, no. 2, pp 49-64.

Fleece and Rocket Presses: exhibition of fine printing and engraving, March - April 1989 (Durham: Durham University Library, 1989).

Rogerson, Ian, Simon Lawrence and the Fleece Press, 1980 - 1995, a bibliography of printed books (Manchester: Manchester Metropolitan University, 1996).