Written by William Morris specifically for the Kelmscott Press, ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ is a fantasy novel about a man whose ship is carried by a storm to a mysterious land ruled by an enchantress. The story’s protagonist, Golden Walter, falls in love with the enchantress’s indentured maid and they form a plan to escape. Inspired by medieval tales such as those from Thomas Malory’s ‘Le Morte d'Arthur’, Morris writes in an archaic manner imitating the sprawling sentences of Middle English literature.
Morris’s fiction stories of the 1890s inspired a generation of later fantasy writers including J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. Many parallels can be drawn between ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ and Lewis’s ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. The White Witch of Narnia, a sorceress inhabiting a castle and commanding an army of dwarves can be seen as an exaggerated form of the Mistress in ‘The Wood Beyond the World’ who is also served by evil dwarves and lives in a "white marble" castle. The wood between the worlds, an otherworldly plane connecting different worlds in Lewis’s ‘The Magician's Nephew’, also derives its name from Morris’s book.
This book is one of 350 copies printed on hand-made paper, each featuring a woodcut frontispiece designed by Edward Burne-Jones. An additional 8 copies were printed on vellum. The borders and initials for the book were designed by William Morris.