||Kim Taylor was born to English parents in Jubbulpore, India on February 27, 1919,
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
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
three years with Art in Industry, also managing to
find time to involve himself in the production of cultural programming for All
||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,
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
printing letterheads and greeting cards.
||His first significant project, in 1954, was the St. Matthew Passion, with the text
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
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
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
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
||The very favorable impression that Kim Taylor made in Austin led to an invitation
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
||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
||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
||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
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
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
her subsequent widowhood. Linocuts were by Alan Richards. Near concurrently a
collection of Powys's letters to Gamel Woolsey, with drawings by Peter Reddick,
||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.