Samson Press

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The Samson Press was a small letterpress printing business or private press run by Joan Mary Shelmerdine (1899–1994) and Flora Margaret Grierson (1899–1966). They began printing in 1930, at a cottage in Stuart Road, Warlingham in Surrey, and produced a number of small books and a good deal of ephemera before the Press was destroyed by fire in late 1936. They subsequently moved to Woodstock in Oxfordshire, where they re-established the Press in 1937. They ceased printing for a while during the war, but re-opened the Press in 1946 and continued to work, mostly producing greetings cards and other ephemera, until 1967, when the Press was formally closed (following the death of Grierson in the previous year). Shelmerdine subsequently presented the Press's archive, along with its type and printing equipment, to the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

The Samson Press was unusual for being run by two women, on a commercial footing, at a time when women found it very hard to find practical employment in the printing industry. It was also notable for its patronage of young and unknown artists, who were commissioned to provide wood-engravings, linocuts and drawings for the Press's publications. Iain Macnab was an early friend of the Press, and produced numerous images for Grierson and Shelmerdine, and some of the other artists employed by the Press, such as Tom Chadwick and Gwenda Morgan, were pupils at Macnab's Grosvenor School of Art.


    • Ransom, Will. Selective check-lists of press books. New York: Duschnes, 1947–1950.
    • Nash, Paul W. "The Samson Press archive at the Bodleian". The Bodleian Library record (21:2, October 2008, pp. 256–261).