Sheila Waters

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Sheila Waters (born 1929) is a British calligrapher and teacher.


Waters was born in Gravesend, England, on March 13, 1929.[1][2] She graduated from the Medway College of Art, Kent, in 1948 with a Diploma of Design, and received an associate degree from the Royal College of Art in London in 1951.[1] There she developed her calligraphic skills under the tutelage of Dorothy Mahoney (assistant to the calligrapher Edward Johnston).[3]

At twenty-two, Waters was elected a fellow of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators.[4][5] She inaugurated the program of calligraphy courses at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. and later developed her own private classes and annual workshops. Waters was the first president and founding member of the Washington Calligraphers Guild.

Waters was married to bookbinder and conservator Peter Waters from 1953 until his death in 2003.[5] One of her three sons is Julian Waters, a noted calligrapher and typographer.


Between 1961 and 1978, Waters hand-lettered and illustrated an illuminated manuscript of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood. The book was released in 1979.[6][7][8]

Waters is the author of Foundations of Calligraphy, published in 2006. Her 2016 book Waters Rising: Letters from Florence documented her husband's efforts to save hundreds of thousands of books damaged in the 1966 Florence flood.[5][9]

Further reading[edit]

  • Thomas, Dylan; Under Milk Wood, A Play for Voices, A Reproduction of the Illuminated Manuscript by Sheila Waters. Foreword by Heather Child. International Letter Arts Network, Santa Ana, California 1989.
  • Waters, Sheila; Foundations of Calligraphy, Foreword by Rose Folsom. John Neal Books, Greensboro, North Carolina, 2006.


  1. ^ a b The World Who's who of Women. Melrose Press. 1982.
  2. ^ Baltimore Museum of Art; Johns Hopkins University. Peabody Institute. Library; Walters Art Gallery (Baltimore, Md.) (1980). 2,000 years of calligraphy: a three-part exhibition. Taplinger. ISBN 978-0-8008-7919-8.
  3. ^ Letter Arts Review. Calligraphy Review. 2004.
  4. ^ Jerry Kelly; Alice Koeth; American Institute of Graphic Arts; Society of Scribes (2000). Artist & Alph4abet: Twentieth Century Calligraphy and Letter Art in America. David R. Godine Publisher. pp. 131–. ISBN 978-1-56792-137-3.
  5. ^ a b c Dirda, Michael (2 November 2016). "'Waters Rising': A tale of the man who helped saved [sic] Florence's cultural treasures". The Washington Post. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  6. ^ Kitty Burns Florey (8 October 2013). Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. Melville House. pp. 205–. ISBN 978-1-61219-305-2.
  7. ^ Sandra Kirshenbaum (1990). Fine Print. S. Kirshenbaum.
  8. ^ Wormsley Library; H. George Fletcher; Paul Getty; Pierpont Morgan Library (2007). H. George Fletcher (ed.). The Wormsley Library: A Personal Selection by Sir Paul Getty, K.B.E. Maggs Bros. Limited. ISBN 978-0-901953-13-1.
  9. ^ "Waters rising: Sheila Waters marks 50-year anniversary of Florence Flood".

External links[edit]