Mrs Eaves

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Category Serif
Classification Transitional serif
Designer(s) Zuzana Licko, after John Baskerville
Foundry Emigre
Variations Mrs Eaves Sans

Mrs Eaves is a transitional serif typeface designed by Zuzana Licko in 1996, and licensed by Emigre, a typefoundry run by Licko and husband Rudy VanderLans.


Mrs Eaves is named after Sarah Eaves, the woman who became John Baskerville's wife. Like his typefaces, John Baskerville was, himself, a controversial character. As Baskerville was setting up his printing and type business, he hired Sarah Eaves as his live-in housekeeper; eventually, her husband Richard abandoned her and their five children, and Mrs. Eaves became Baskerville's mistress and eventual helpmate with typesetting and printing. She married Baskerville within a month of her estranged husband's death. Selection of the name Mrs Eaves honors one of the forgotten women in the history of typography.

Stylistically, Mrs Eaves is a revival of the types of English printer and punchcutter John Baskerville, and is related to contemporary Baskerville typefaces. Like Baskerville, Mrs Eaves has a near vertical stress, departing from the old style model. Identifying characters, similar to Baskerville's types, are the lowercase g with its open lower counter and swashlike ear. Both the roman and italic uppercase Q have a flowing swashlike tail. The uppercase C has serifs at top and bottom; there is no serif at the apex of the central junction in uppercase W; and the uppercase G has a sharp spur suggesting a vestigial serif.

Licko's design is unorthodox and not a pure revival. In creating it, she was influenced by how it would be printed by contrast to printing in Baskerville's time: considering the flatness of offset lithography in comparison to letterpress printing, and the resolution of set devices and on-screen display. The overall stroke weight of Mrs Eaves is considerably heavier than most other revivals, countering the often anemic reproduction of smaller point sizes in other digital revivals of Baskerville, and restoring some of the feeling of letterpress printing's unpredictability. To compensate for this and create a brighter-looking page, Licko lowered the x-height, reducing the amount of space taken up by ink on the page.

Issue 38, The Authentic Issue, saw the first extensive use of Mrs Eaves in Emigre Magazine. [1]

In an interview featured in Eye (No. 43, Vol. 11, Spring 2002), Licko explained why she thought Mrs Eaves was a successful typeface:


The typeface family includes roman, italic, petite capitals, small capitals, bold, and roman and italic ligatures. Ligatures in all variants of Mrs Eaves include the standard fi, ffi, and fl ligatures, and resurrect the classic eighteenth century ct and st ligatures. A Just Ligatures variant, available in roman and italic, contains a vast array of new ligatures, many incorporating intertwined and swash characters.

The Mrs Eaves Ligatures sets include 213 ligatures, ranging from the common to the fanciful. The OpenType format fonts contain all 213 ligatures. [2]

Identifying Characteristics[edit]

  • Tail on lowercase g does not close
  • Swash-like tail of Q
  • small counter of italic e compared to italic a
  • J well below baseline
  • High crossbar and pointed apex of A
  • Top and bottom serifs on C
  • W and w have no middle stroke
  • Long lower arm of E
  • Many versions feature a calligraphic J
  • T has wide arms

Prominent Uses[edit]

The WordPress logotype is set in Mrs Eaves.[3] It is also used for the titles (but not author names) on the covers and spines of the current Penguin Classics from Penguin Books.

Blacktree's Quicksilver wordmark uses Mrs Eaves. Roman and petite caps.

Bowdoin College uses Mrs Eaves in the college wordmark and in many other official materials.

Radiohead's 2003 album Hail to the Thief prominently used Mrs Eaves in its related artwork.

NBC's For Love or Money.

The body text from the published Browne Review.

Norwegian author Rune Salvesen used the type for his second novel, Zookose published by Aschehoug in 2009. Jan Kjærstad applauded the choice.

Spacing issues[edit]

Mrs Eaves has been criticised by typographers for its very loose and uneven spacing, noticeable especially in large bodies of text. It also possesses relatively few kerning pairs[4] , which automatically adjust spacing between individual glyphs. Mrs Eaves utilizes about 40 kerning pairs, compared to the average Adobe Type 1 font, which uses about 280 kerning pairs. Some fonts include up to 4000 built-in kerning pairs. [5]


  1. ^ Eye, Number 43, Volume 11, Spring 2002.
  2. ^ "Mrs Eaves Design Information: Emigre Fonts". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  3. ^ "WordPress › About » Logos and Graphics". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  4. ^ "Typeface: Baskerville". Retrieved 2012-08-13. 
  5. ^ "Kerning". Adobe. 2009. Retrieved 2013-11-13. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]