15 years of Two Rivers Press

Logo of Two Rivers Press

Two Rivers Press was founded in Reading in 1994 by Peter Hay (1951–2003), an artist and enthusiast for the town and its two rivers, the Kennet and the Thames. The Press set out to explore ‘the place where art and history meet’, and has received widespread recognition for the quality of its productions.

This exhibition featured a number of publications by the Press from the University of Reading’s rare book collections, together with examples of original art work and rubber stamps from the Press’s own archive.

Described as 'one of the most characterful small presses in the country', the Press is a co-operative of writers, artists, designers and other creative individuals, and is firmly rooted in the Reading community. The first book to be published by the Press was Where two rivers meet, a celebration of the history and natural beauty of the confluence of the Kennet and the Thames. This first publication, written by Adam Stout and cut and pasted on Peter Hay’s kitchen table in Newtown in Reading, followed the final success of an eight-year campaign to stop the building of the Reading Cross Town Route over Kennetmouth. Since then, almost all of the publications have had some connection with the town of Reading.

As well as books on local history, such as Apples, Berkshire, cider and A much-maligned town, the Press has also published a number of editions of poetry, both original collections and classics, including a new translation of The drunken boat by Arthur Rimbaud. The Press has also published maps, chapbooks, posters, and its own journal The waterlog. Two Rivers Press is also active in the local community, running workshops and poetry competitions, and taking part in the Whiteknights Studio Trails, the Farmers’ Markets and other events.

Cover of 'Apples, Berkshire, cider'List of exhibits

The following four books were displayed with related original artwork and rubber stamps:

Duncan Mackay. Apples, Berkshire, cider : the A to Z guide to apples, apple-growing and cider-making in Berkshire. Illustrated by Peter Hay ; designed & lettered by Pip Hall. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1996. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--MAC

Arthur Rimbaud. The drunken boat. Translation by Geoff Sawers ; illustrations by Peter Hay. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1999. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--RIM

Illustration by Peter Hay from The drunken boatAdam Sowan (ed) A much-maligned town : opinions of Reading, 1586-1997. Illustrated by Peter Hay ; designed by Pip Hall. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1997. (A new edition has recently been published). TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--MUC

Adam Stout. Where two rivers meet : the story of Kennet Mouth. Illustrated by Peter Hay ; designed by Pip Hall. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1994. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--STO

Other Two Rivers Press books on display included the following:

Cover of 'The effect of coastal processes'Paul Bavister. Glass. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1998. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--BAV

Adrian Blamires. The effect of coastal processes : [poems] Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2005. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--BLA

Broad Street : second Reading Waterstone's poetry competition 1999. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1999. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--BRO

Tom Bryan. The sons of Macomish : stories. Illustrated by Peter Hay. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2000. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--BRY

Cover of 'From the Abbey to the office'Dennis Butts. From the Abbey to the office. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2008. "A short introduction to Reading and its writers". TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--BUT

Jane Draycott. Tideway. Illustrated by Peter Hay. Designed by Sally Castle. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2002. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--DRA

John Froy. Eggshell : a decorator's notes. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2007. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--FRO

Phillipa Hardman and Barbara Morris. Sumer is icumen in. Lettering & illustrations by Sally Castle. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2006. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--HAR

Cover of 'A Thames bestiary'Peter Hay & Geoff Sawers. A Thames bestiary. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2007. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--HAY

Geoff Sawers. A ladder for Mr Oscar Wilde. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 1997. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--SAW

Christopher Smart. Cat Jeoffry. Illustrated by Peter Hay. [Reading] : Two Rivers Press, 1999. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--SMA

Adam Sowan. Abattoirs Road to Zinzan Street : Reading's streets and their names. Illustrated by Peter Hay and Sally Castle. [Rev. ed.] Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2004. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--SOW

Adam Stout and Geoff Sawers (eds) Charms against jackals : ten years of Two Rivers Press. [Reading] : Two Rivers Press, 2004. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--CHA Cover of 'The ballad of Reading gaol'

Susan Utting. Houses without walls. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2006. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--UTT 

Oscar Wilde. The ballad of Reading gaol. Illustrated by Peter Hay. 2nd ed. Reading : Two Rivers Press, 2004. TWO RIVERS PRESS COLLECTION--WIL

All of the books that were shown in the display are held in the Two Rivers Press Collection at the University of Reading Special Collections Services.

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