A Maker of Books: Alec Bolton and His Brindabella Press is an account of a passion: that of a publisher and the books he made for himself and his friends, keeping alive craft traditions that were threatened by unrelenting change.
‘Printing is like religion’, Alec Bolton once said. ‘We live in sin, but with the hope of perfection before us.’ And while his life circled around books and writing generally, it was above all with his private press, the Brindabella Press, that he won acclaim as an Australian book arts practitioner. He worked with modest resources from a lost era of letterpress printing, mostly on the weekends, in a small printery at his home in Canberra. Starting with one-page poems and pamphlets, he sought always to print better books. His editions of writers such as Barbara Hanrahan, Les A. Murray and Kenneth Slessor are now scarce and sought after. They are important to any serious collection of fine Australian books. At the heart of everything was the poet Rosemary Dobson, his wife, who first suggested he take up letterpress printing and who wrote three of the Press’s most lovely books.
The transformation of the publishing program at the National Library of Australia is also part of the story told in this biography of one of Australia’s great creative publishers, based on the Bolton Papers at the Library. Branching out from the traditional biography format, A Maker of Books: Alec Bolton and His Brindabella Press illuminates the story of this talented creator through examining key works produced by the Brindabella Press, creating an innovative ‘bibliobiography’.
About the author
Michael Richards has been a bookseller, a librarian (St Anne’s College Oxford and the National Library of Australia), an historian and exhibitions curator, and is now a letterpress printer. He received his first tutorial on the upright platen press by Alec Bolton himself, and began collecting Alec Bolton’s Brindabella Press books in 1987. Like Alec, he regrets the wasted years when he was not printing.