Claire Battershill

Claire Battershill is an Assistant Professor cross-appointed in the Faculty of Information and the Department of English at the University of Toronto. Her most recent books are Women and Letterpress Printing 1920–2020 (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and Using Digital Humanities in the Classroom (2nd edition), co-authored with Shawna Ross (Bloomsbury 2022).


Virginia Woolf’s Common Readers in Paris

On July 27, 1927, Vita Sackville-West wrote to Virginia Woolf, describing an unexpected encounter: "Today as I was driving down Oxford Street I saw a woman on a refuge, carrying [To the] Lighthouse. She was an unknown woman – up from the country, I should think, and just been to Mudie’s or the Times, – and as the policeman held me up with his white glove I saw your name staring at me, Virginia Woolf, against the moving red buses, in Vanessa’s paraph of lettering. Then as I stayed (with my foot pressing down the clutch"

New Hands on Old Papers: Modernist Publishing and the Archival Gaze

Virginia Woolf records in her diary, September 22, 1925, clarion testimony to the transformational power of the Hogarth Press on her writing life. The avowed feminism of that final sentence has the force of proleptic aphorism; one woman’s victory over a male-dominated publishing industry might well become the rallying cry for later women printers and press owners.[2] But the future-making turn of the last sentence also eclipses the quiet force of the first: Woolf’s lament that she has sacrificed, willingly, her handwriting to the Hogarth Press.

Collaborative Modernisms, Digital Humanities, and Feminist Practice

Nancy Cunard began printing alone in 1927—in a heat wave no less, as she notes in her posthumously published memoir, These Were the Hours (1969)—and struggled her way through the difficult early stages of learning how to make serviceable prints on an Albion press.[1] She quickly realized, however, that she would need help if the Hours Press were ever to become a successful small publishing house. In 1928, she therefore initiated her well-known collaboration with her lover, the jazz musician Henry Crowder, turning the printing room into a space where, as Jeremy Braddock has recently argued, “Cunard’s advocacy of radical race politics” was often perceived by others as working “in concert with the open publicizing of her own romantic relationships with black men.”[2]