University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Kim Taylor:

An Inventory of His Papers at the Harry Ransom Center

Creator: Taylor, Kim, 1919-
Title: Kim Taylor Papers
Dates: 1943-1997
Abstract: The papers of Kim Taylor include publication files of books designed by Taylor between 1954 and 1975, as well as some personal correspondence.
Call Number: Manuscript Collection MS-4169
Extent: 7 document boxes and 9 oversize boxes (6.3 linear feet), 6 oversize folders (osf), 16 galley files (gf)
Language: English and German
Repository: The University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Center

Biographical Sketch

Kim Taylor was born to English parents in Jubbulpore, India on February 27, 1919, and spent his childhood in India in the final decades of the British Raj. After having been sent away to boarding school in England, Taylor (who once admitted he had "learned to read and write [at school] but not very much else that matters") left formal education behind. He had, he said, "not dropped out but leapt out of school at sixteen." By 1938, Taylor was back in India, employed with the advertising firm of D. J. Keymer and Co. as a copywriter and account executive.

In 1940, Taylor moved to Australia where he taught at Tudor House School in New South Wales until 1942. At the end of the war he returned to India, where in Calcutta he worked as an editor on the arts and crafts periodical Art in Industry. Although a life-long lover of books, this was his initiation into the production of words and images by means of metal type. He remained in India three years with Art in Industry, also managing to find time to involve himself in the production of cultural programming for All India Radio.

By the early 1950s, Taylor returned to England where he taught in various secondary schools. In 1953, he met printer Guido Morris, proprietor of the Latin Press, then at St. Ives, Cornwall. Soon after their meeting Morris lost his equipment to a creditor and in short order Taylor found himself "in the company of a small Albion press, some Bembo type and hand-made paper ..." Taylor named his venture The Ark Press and began to learn the printer's craft by printing letterheads and greeting cards.

His first significant project, in 1954, was the St. Matthew Passion, with the text in linoleum cuts by John Cossar and illustrations by Ru van Rossem. Twenty-five copies of the work, issued loose leaf in portfolio, were produced and quickly sold. Taylor's first completed book was D. H. Lawrence's essay Life, illustrated by van Rossem's wood engravings.

After finishing Life in 1954, Taylor removed to Totnes, Devon to teach at the Dartington Hall School, the future of the Ark Press in abeyance. In mid-1955, Kim Taylor received a letter from Warren Roberts, a professor at the University of Texas and Lawrence's bibliographer. Roberts, who had seen Life, wanted Taylor to design and print Lawrence's "cycle of love poems" entitled Look! We Have Come Through!, the manuscript of which the university purchased. Taylor was immediately interested in Roberts's proposal and agreed to design and produce an edition with financial assistance from the University of Texas.

While Roberts and Taylor worked to bring the Lawrence project to a successful conclusion Taylor left Dartington Hall at the beginning of 1957, having accepted an editorial position with the art and design periodical Graphis in Zurich. After many delays Look! was published in the fall of 1958 in editions for the university's Rare Book Collection and also under the Ark Press imprint. Acceptance of Look! was immediate, and a second edition was issued in 1959.

The very favorable impression that Kim Taylor made in Austin led to an invitation to visit the University of Texas campus in early 1960. Harry Ransom, then university vice president and director of the newly-renamed Humanities Research Center, offered Taylor the post of consultant to the university publications program. He accepted the offer and arrived in Austin with his wife Eya and their two children in the fall of 1960.

It could be fairly said that Kim Taylor hit the ground running in his quest to carry out Ransom's aims for a strong publications program for the Humanities Research Center. Two of his earliest substantial publishing projects at the university--The Craft & Context of Translation by William Arrowsmith and Roger Shattuck and Poor Heretic: Poems by Kenneth Hopkins--were named to the American Institute of Graphic Arts's Fifty Books of the Year exhibition for 1962. Poor Heretic was the precursor of the research center's admired Tower Series of poetry monographs, joined later by the Tower Bibliographical Series.

Along with the ongoing scholarly series and monographs for which Kim Taylor was responsible, he also designed and executed a wide range of other print material, ephemeral and otherwise for the center and for the university's Art Department. Taylor also served as assistant editor of the Texas Quarterly, the generalist periodical founded and originally edited by Harry Ransom, and taught courses in the book arts and Oriental arts and ideas in the Art Department.

In summing up Taylor's work at the University of Texas, Al Lowman wrote in Printing Arts in Texas (1975) "apparently he never had a day off or, for that matter, an off day... In design he plotted his own individualistic course. His work is readily recognizable, strongly personal and strongly stated. Nothing like it had been seen previously in Texas, nor has its like been seen since ..."

During the summer of 1969, Kim Taylor and his family returned to England, taking up residence in an Elizabethan cottage in rural Somerset. A sort of summation of the years spent in Texas was achieved with the 1971 publication of The First Hundred Publications of the Humanities Research Center of the University of Texas at Austin. Edited by Edwin T. Bowden, this descriptive bibliography was designed by Kim Taylor and printed by Wordens of Cornwall, Taylor's printer for the Ark Press titles. He was responsible for the design of forty-one of the publications included in the survey.

While Taylor was in Texas, the Ark Press had been able to issue two volumes of poems by Harold Morland, one with graphics by Mort Baranoff, and one with the woodcuts of Robert Wyss. The press had also published two works by Kim Taylor, The Labour of Love: One Aspect of the Autobiography of Michael Adam (1962) and Man is a Little World: the First Will & Testament of Michael Adam (1969). Michael Adam was a pseudonym Taylor had first used in Look! to identify the creator of the scratchboard illustrations found in that work.

Reactivation of the Ark Press was a priority, and in the first several years Kim Taylor was back in England and a number of works of substantive and artistic merit were issued by the press. Among these was a collection of poems by D. H. Lawrence selected by Michael Adam and with woodcuts by Barbara Whitehead, issued in 1970 under the title The Body of God. This was followed in 1971 by the republication of Lawrence's Look! with Felix Hoffmann's woodcuts in lieu of the scratchboard work of the 1959 edition.

In 1973 appeared The Cry of a Gull, the journals Alyse Gregory kept between 1923 and 1948 observing her marriage with Llewelyn Powys and her subsequent widowhood. Linocuts were by Alan Richards. Near concurrently a collection of Powys's letters to Gamel Woolsey, with drawings by Peter Reddick, was published.

Despite Kim Taylor's best efforts and the reputation of the Ark Press, economic viability was not achieved, and in 1975 the affairs of the press were wound up. Inflation resulting from the 1973 oil crisis was not kind to little presses, and--as Michael Adam later observed--"The selling of books was not among Kim Taylor's gifts. He underpriced his books; gave them away. The Ark sank ... with little to show for it but a smile."

In the years since the Ark Press came to an end, Kim Taylor has written a good deal but only a portion of those writings have found their way into print. Even so, Michael Adam's Wandering in Eden: Three Ways to the East Within Us was published by Knopf in 1976, as was his Womankind: a Celebration by Harper in 1979.

My Wild Lone, with woodcuts by Robert Wyss, was published in 1987 under the imprint of Quay Books of Penzance, along with a number of small volumes of poetry by Harold Morland and others. My Wild Lone was printed at St. Ives, but the others, while designed by Taylor, were produced by "a local photocopy shop."

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation engaged Kim Taylor in 1988 to design a series of works in Portuguese literature and culture to be published jointly by the foundation and the Carcanet Press. The project resulted in more than twenty titles featuring Taylor's design work and calligraphy and appeared between 1990 and 1997.

In 1996, Michael Adam wrote "at seventy-seven, with all book designing, teaching and writing seemingly done, Kim Taylor now turns to painting--often showing that marriage of words and images he has always wished to celebrate." His first painting exhibition was at the Book Gallery in St. Ives in 1996. There have since been other exhibitions of his work in St. Ives and elsewhere in his beloved Cornwall.

Scope and Contents

The papers of Kim Taylor span the years 1943 to 1997 and comprise primarily the publication files of several works issued by his Ark Press during the period 1954 to 1975. Also present are materials relating to projects mooted but not completed. Some correspondence relating to these various projects as well as a small amount of biographical material is included. The papers are in an order created by the Ransom Center, and are arranged in two series: Series I. Works, 1943-1975 (15 boxes) and Series II. Personal Papers, 1953-1997 (1 box).

The Works series is presented in two subseries: A. Projects Completed and B. Unrealized Projects. The first of these represents the major portion of the Kim Taylor papers inasmuch as it contains the publication files of a substantial fraction of the Ark Press output in its twenty years of activity.

The amount and type of material present for the various works found here varies from scattered correspondence (A Matter of Death and Life) or drafts of artwork (The Craft & Context of Translation) to marked typescripts, original artwork and printers' blocks, galleys and page proofs (So Wild a Thing). Other works by Michael Adam, Alyse Gregory, and D. H. Lawrence also have substantial publication files present.

The Unrealized Projects subseries runs to less than a half box, but indicates Taylor's interest in publishing authors as varied as William Blake, Francis of Assisi, Raja Rao, and Dylan Thomas. D. H. Lawrence's The Man Who Died is represented by a dummy and an incomplete set of galleys.

Series II. Personal Papers, 1953-1997 consists of professional correspondence between Kim Taylor and authors, collaborators, editors, and printers in the second half of the twentieth century, primarily in the years between 1957 and 1975, along with a small group of biographical material in the form of clippings, photocopies, and documents.

The correspondence received by Taylor from Edward Dahlberg runs to nearly sixty individual letters and is the largest in the series. The interchange grew out of the interest the Texas Quarterly took in Dahlberg's autobiographical Because I was Flesh and the subsequent publication of a section of that work in a 1963 issue of the quarterly. Taylor was clearly interested in Dahlberg's writing, and the men established a close rapport early in the correspondence, preceding the appearance of Cipango's Hinder Door as Tower Series no. 6 (1966). The last letter from Dahlberg in the collection was sent to Taylor in 1970, after Kim Taylor's return to England.

The development of the Ark Press during the years immediately before Kim Taylor moved from Zurich to Austin is the theme of the letters from Kenneth Worden, proprietor of the Worden Press of Marazion, Cornwall. Worden was supportive of Taylor's aim of producing attractive and worthwhile books, and the practical aspect of that support is evident throughout this correspondence. Other correspondence to and from the Worden Press is found elsewhere in these papers.

Louis Zukofsky's correspondence with Taylor dates from the years 1961 to 1964 and is concerned with the publication by the Ark Press for the Humanities Research Center of Zukofsky's critical work Bottom: On Shakespeare. This file also includes carbons of Kim Taylor's side of the exchange, as well as other correspondence related to the publication and distribution of Bottom.



Open for research

Index Terms

Dahlberg, Edward, 1900-1977.
Worden, Kenneth.
Zukofsky, Lewis, 1904-1978.
Ark Press.
Book design--Great Britain--History--20th century.
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center.
Document Types
Christmas cards.
Galley proofs.

Related Material

Other collections in the Ransom Center containing material relating to Kim Taylor are those of Edward Dahlberg, Kenneth Hopkins, D. H. Lawrence, Henry Miller, Nancy Wilson Ross, the Wallace Literary Agency, Eric Walter White, and Louis Zukofsky. The Zukofsky papers contain the publication file for the Ark Press edition of Bottom: On Shakespeare, including galleys, page proofs, and artwork.

Administrative Information


Purchases and gifts, 1963-2012 (R1552, R2020, R7005, R7059)

Processed by:

Bob Taylor, 2012


Adam, Michael. "Kim Taylor: Book Designer" in The Private Library, fourth series, v. 9, no. 2, summer 1996

Lowman, Al. Printing Arts in Texas. [Austin, Tex.]: Roger Beacham, 1975

Taylor, Kim. "The Ark Press" in The Private Library, no. 25, January 1963

--------------- "A Phoenix out of The Ark" in The Private Library, second series, v. 3, no. 3, autumn 1970

Container List

Series I. Works, 1943-1975

Subseries A. Projects Completed, 1954-1975
Adam, Michael.
D. H. Lawrence and the Way of the Dandelion, with woodcuts by Barbara Whitehead (1975)
1.1 Notes and drafts, 1974?
1.2 Typescript, 1974?
Artist's and blockmaker's proofs
1.3 Small format, 1974?
osf Large format, 1974?
1.4 Paste-ups (Trial paste-up and Rough layout), 1974?
gf With extensive markings, 1974
Galley proofs A with extensive markings and typed additions, 1974
Proofs B and C, each with some markings, 1974-1975
1.5 Page proofs (two copies), 1975
The Labour of Love; One Aspect of the Autobiography of Michael Adam, with woodcuts by Robert Wyss (1962)
1.6 Correspondence, 1959-1962
1.7 Typescript with corrections and carbon copy, 1962
1.8 Sketches, engravings, jacket designs, 1962?
1.9 Carbon typescript (3 pts.) with author's text and artist's proofs, 1962?
gf Set of galleys with some revisions, 1962?
Set of galleys; extensively revised, 1962?
1.10 Printer's working copy, 1962
2.1 Designer's plan, 1962
2.2 A Matter of Death and Life (1959), correspondence, 1958
2.3 Ark Press small printings, a collection of prospecti, job printing, verse, Taylor family greeting cards and announcements, 1954-1959
2.4 Arrowsmith, William. The Craft & Context of Translation, edited by William Arrowsmith and Roger Shattuck (1961), title page designs by Kim Taylor; linoleum cut prints by Mort Baranoff, 1961?
Gregory, Alyse. The Cry of a Gull; edited with a foreword and an afterword by Michael Adam, and linocuts by Alan Richards (1973)
2.5 Correspondence, 1943-1972
2.6 Notes, drafts, and fragments, 1972?
2.7 Typescript marked for setting, 1972
2.8 Carbon typescript, 1972
8-11 Printer's blocks (metal and wood), 1972?
3.1 Proofs of illustrations, 1972?
osf Artist's and blockmaker's proofs, 1972?
3.2 Title page and cover designs, small format, 1972?
osf Title page and cover designs, large format, 1972?
gf First stage; unmarked and without deletions, 1972?
First stage as returned to printer with corrections by several readers, 1972?
First stage with corrections by Rosemary Manning and Alan Parkes, 1972?
Second stage main text, 1972?
Second stage; read by Alan Parkes and Florida Scott-Maxwell, 1972?
Main text second stage with corrections by Harold Morland, 1972?
Third stage corrected & marked for paging, 1973
3.3 Page proofs with final corrections, 10 October 1972
3.4 Unsewn signatures, 1973
Lawrence, D. H.
Life, with engravings by Ru van Rossem (1954)
3.5 Correspondence, dummy, 1953-1954
osf Sketches for title page, text, and dust jacket designs on both sides of folio leaf, 1954
Look! We Have Come Through! With an introduction by Frieda Lawrence and illustrations by Michael Adam (1958)
3.6 Correspondence, 1955-1959
3.7 Notes, dummy, art work, 1955-1958
osf Design for endpapers and similar "drawing by Cyril Satorsky ... not used," 1958?
Look! We Have Come Through! With an introduction by Frieda Lawrence and woodcuts by Felix Hoffman [sic], (1971)
4.1 Copy of 1959 edition, disbound and marked for revisions, 1970?
12-13 Printer's blocks (metal and wood), 1971
4.2, osf Drafts and proofs of fore- and after-matter, partial paste-up, artist's and blockmaker's proofs, 1970-1971
gf First galley proofs as corrected by printer's reader, 1970?
Galley proofs A, 1970?
Galley proofs B, 1970?
Galley proofs marked for paging, 1970?
Galleys with corrections, 1971
4.3 Paste-up for page proofs, 1970?
4.4 Paste-up, later state, 1971
4.5 Page proofs (two sets), 1971
4.6 Page proofs with corrections (two sets), 1971
5.1 Unsewn signatures, 1971
Morland, Harold. David Dancing; illustrations by Mort Baranoff (1961)
5.2 Correspondence, typescripts, proofs of Baranoff's illustrations, original art by Robin Rae (not used), 1960
5.3 Paste-ups (two versions), 1960-1961
gf Set of galleys with extensive revisions, 1960
Partial set of galleys, 1960
Peattie, Donald Culross. Glory on the Earth; wood engravings by Otto Rohse (1960)
5.4 Correspondence, dummy, paste-up, 1957-1960
14 Artist's wood engraving blocks, 1959?
Powys, Llewelyn. So Wild a Thing; Letters to Gamel Woolsey; edited as a narrative by Malcolm Elwin, with illustrations by Peter Reddick (1973)
5.5 Correspondence, 1930-1974
5.6 Typescript marked for setting, 1973?
5.7, osf Reddick's drawings, 1971-1973?
15-16 Metal and wood blocks, 1973
gf First stage uncorrected, 1973?
First stage; proof reading by Harold Morland, 1973?
First stage; proof read by Malcolm Elwin, 1973
First stage; corrected by Malcolm Elwin, 1973
Second stage; corrected by Malcolm Elwin and marked for printer by Kim Taylor, 1973
6.1, osf Paste-up and title page rough designs; blockmaker's proofs, 1972?
6.2 Page proofs and unsewn signatures, 1973
Tinker, Edward Larocque. Corridos & Calaveras. With notes and translations by Américo Paredes (1961)
6.3 Correspondence and graphic designs, 1961
6.4 Typescript marked for printer; paste-up, 1961?
Subseries B. Unrealized Projects, 1956-1964
6.5 B-T, 1956-1964
6.6 Francis of Assisi. The Canticle of the Sun (1956), correspondence, art work and text drafts, dummy, 1956
Lawrence, D. H.
6.7 The Dance of the Sprouting Corn (1959), correspondence and dummy, 1958-1959
The Man who Died (undated)
6.8 Dummy, undated
gf Galleys 4 through 10, undated
6.9 Raja Rao. André Malraux Among the Gods (1959), correspondence, art work by Françoise and Jean-Pierre Mignon, 1959-1960

Series II. Personal Papers, 1953-1997

Correspondence, 1953-1970
6.10 A-W, 1953-1962
7.1 Dahlberg, Edward, 1962-1970
7.2 Worden, Kenneth, 1957-1962
7.3 Zukofsky, Louis, 1961-1964
7.4 Correspondence and biographical material, 1962-1997

Index of Correspondents

  • Asselbergs, C. J.--6.10
  • Beauclair, Gotthard de (Trajanus Presse)--1.6
  • Blechman, R. O. (Robert O.), 1930- --6.5
  • Brakhage, Stan--7.3
  • British Broadcasting Corporation (Michael Hardwick)--3.5
  • Chambers, David--6.10
  • Curwen Press (F. H. Riches, Tim Simon)--3.6
  • Dahlberg, Edward, 1900-1977--7.1
  • Davis, Peter--5.2, 6.5
  • Dover Publications, Inc. (Hayward Cirker)--6.7
  • Elwin, Eve--5.5
  • Elwin, Malcolm, 1902- --5.5
  • Garratt & Atkinson--3.5
  • George Allen & Unwin (W. N. Beard, Charles Lewis)--5.4
  • George Braziller, Inc. (Susan Freund)--2.2
  • Gill, Mary--6.10
  • Golden, William, 1911-1967--2.5
  • Grauer, Ben--3.5
  • Gregory, Alyse, 1884-1967--2.5
  • Hardy, Evelyn, 1902- --2.6
  • Henry Holt and Company (Ruth Stark)--6.5
  • Hoffmann, Gretel--1.6
  • Isaac Pitman & Sons (P. H. F. Colomb, D. L. S. Hodson)--3.5, 5.4
  • Kruger, Fania, 1893-1977--7.4
  • Library of Congress. Card Division (Loran P. Karsner)--4.2
  • Lowman, Al (The University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures)--7.4
  • Machen, Janet--5.5
  • Marks, Isobel Powys, 1906-1999--2.5
  • Mignon, Jean Pierre--6.9
  • Moore, Harry Thornton--3.5, 6.10
  • Moore, Marianne, 1887-1972--7.3
  • Morland, Harold (Newland Park College)--5.2
  • New Mexico Quarterly (Richard C. Angell)--6.3
  • Paredes, Américo, 1915-1999--6.3
  • Pearn, Pollinger & Higham (David Higham, Laurence Pollinger)--3.5-6, 6.5
  • Pearson, Norman Holmes, 1909-1975--7.3
  • Penny, Lucy Powys--2.5, 5.5
  • Pinto, V. de S. (The University, Nottingham)--3.5
  • Pitman Press--see Isaac Pitman & Sons
  • Pollinger, Laurence (Laurence Pollinger Limited)--3.5, 6.7
  • Powys, Francis--5.5
  • Powys, John Cowper, 1872-1963--2.5, 6.10
  • Powys, Llewelyn, 1884-1939--5.5
  • Prynne, J. H., 1936- (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge)--7.3
  • Rae, Robin--5.2
  • Raja Rao--6.9
  • Ransom, Harry Huntt, 1908-1976 (The University of Texas)--3.5, 7.4
  • Reddick, Peter--5.5
  • Reeder, Joseph, 1944- (Red Deer College)--7.4
  • Richards, Alan, 1932 Feb. 23- (Exeter Education Committee)--2.5
  • Roberts, Warren, 1916- (Office of the Director, Humanities Research Center)--3.5, 7.3-4
  • Rohse, Otto--5.4
  • Roulstone, Michael (Travellers Rest Publications)--5.5
  • Routledge & Kegan Paul (Herbert Read)--7.3
  • Sandford, Christopher (The Golden Cockerel Press)--6.10
  • Satorsky, Cyril (The Maryland Institute College of Art)--7.4
  • Scott-Maxwell, Florida, 1883-1979--2.5
  • The Second Coming (Carolee Schneemann)--7.3
  • Silber, John, 1926- (The University of Texas)--7.4
  • Society of Authors (Great Britain) (John Coleby)--2.5
  • Standard Book Numbering Agency (E. F. Budworth)--5.5
  • Tinker, Edward Larocque, 1881-1968--6.3
  • University of Texas (Frances H. Hudspeth)--6.3, 7.3
  • University of Texas--see also Ransom, Harry Huntt; Roberts, Warren; Silber, John
  • University of Texas Press (William L. Hoey, Helen L. MacDonald, Judy Purcell, Kim Taylor)--6.3, 7.3
  • Warde, Beatrice, 1900-1969 (The Monotype Corporation)--6.10
  • Weekley, Montague--1.2
  • Worden (Printers) Ltd. (G. O. Hosking, S. Olney, Kenneth Worden)-- 3.5, 5.2, 6.6, 7.2
  • Worden, Kenneth (Worden (Printers) Ltd.)--5.5, 7.2
  • Zukofsky, Louis, 1904-1978--7.3