Stanley Morison

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Morison drawn by Sir William Rothenstein in 1923.

Stanley Morison (6 May 1889 – 11 October 1967) was an influential British typographer, printing executive and historian of printing.[1]

Morison was an influential adviser to the British Monotype Corporation, advising them on type design. His strong aesthetic sense was a force within the company, which starting shortly before his joining became increasingly known for commissioning popular, historically-influenced designs that revived some of the best typefaces of the past, with particular attention to the early period of printing from the Renaisssance to the late eighteenth-century, and creating and licensing several new type designs that would become popular.[2][3][4][5] Original typefaces commissioned under Morison's involvement included Times New Roman, Gill Sans and Perpetua, while revivals of older designs included Bembo, Baskerville, Ehrhardt and Bell.[6]

Early life and career[edit]

Stanley Morison was born in Britain on 6 May 1889, at Wanstead, Essex, but spent most of his childhood and early adult years (1896–1912) in London at the family home in Fairfax Road, Harringay.[7] He was self-taught, having left school after his father abandoned his family.

In 1913 Morison became an editorial assistant on The Imprint magazine.

On the imposition of conscription in 1916 during First World War, he was a conscientious objector, and was imprisoned.[a]

In 1918 he became design supervisor at the Pelican Press, which published material critical of the war. He moved on to a similar position at the Cloister Press.[9] In 1922, he was a founder-member of the Fleuron Society, dedicated to typographic matters (a fleuron being a typographic flower or ornament). He edited the society's journal, The Fleuron, from 1925 to 1930. The quality of the publication's artwork and printing was considered exceptional. From 1923 to 1925, he was also a staff editor/writer for the Penrose Annual, a graphic arts journal.[9]

With the Monotype Corporation[edit]

From 1923 to 1967, Morison was a typographic consultant for the Monotype Corporation. In the 1920s and 1930s, his work at Monotype included research and adaptation of historic typefaces, including the revival of the Baskerville, Blado (1923) and Bembo (1929) types. He pioneered the great expansion of the company's range of typefaces, and hugely influenced the field of typography to the present day.[9] (But his notes in his A Tally of Types about his early days with Monotype and its program of typographic revivals are not always correct.)[10] In 1927, the British Monotype Corporation hired Beatrice Warde – quickly named the company's Publicity Manager – and has been credited with spreading Morison's typographic influences through her own writings.[11]

Times New Roman[edit]

Morison was also typographical consultant to The Times newspaper from 1929 to 1960; and in 1931, having publicly criticised the paper for the poor quality of its printing, he was commissioned by the newspaper to produce a new, easy-to-read typeface for the publication. Times New Roman, the typeface which Morison developed with graphic artist Victor Lardent, was first used by the newspaper in 1932 and was issued commercially by Monotype in 1933.[12][13] Morison edited the History of the Times from 1935 to 1952, and was editor of The Times Literary Supplement between 1945 and 1948.

Later career[edit]

In 1960, Morison was elected a Royal Designer for Industry. He was a member of the editorial board of Encyclopædia Britannica from 1961 until his death in 1967 in London. He was offered a knighthood in 1953 and the CBE in 1962, but declined both.[14]

He died on 11 October 1967.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Four centuries of Fine Printing; Two Hundred and Seventy-two Examples of the Work of Presses Established Between 1465 and 1924, 1924
  • Type Designs of the Past and Present, 1926
  • English newspaper : Some account of the physical development of journals printed in London between 1622 & the present day, 1932
  • First Principles of Typography, 1936
  • A Tally of Types, 1953
  • Calligraphy 1535–1885: A collection of seventy-two writing-books and specimens from the Italian, French, Low Countries and Spanish schools, 1962
  • On Type Designs Past and Present: A Brief Introduction, 1962
  • The Typographic Book, 1450–1935: A Study of Fine Typography Through Five Centuries, 1963
  • Letter Forms, typographic and scriptorial: Two essays on their classification, history and bibliography, 1968
  • Politics and Script, 1972
  • Selected Essays on the History of Letter-Forms in Manuscript and Print, Vol. 1 & 2, 1980.

Further reading[edit]

  • Mark Argetsinger, A Legacy of Letters, An Assessment of Stanley Morison's Monotype 'Programme of Typographical Design' with specimens ... (2008) [limited edition]
  • Stanley Morison and 'John Fell' (2003. Old School Press, retrieved March 12, 2013)
  • James Moran, Stanley Morison, his typographical achievement (1971)

See also[edit]


Main book sources:

  • James Moran: Stanley Morison: His Typographic Achievement
  • Nicolas Barker: Stanley Morison (authorised biography)
    Note: Barker had to write the biography rapidly, resulting in a release with numerous misprints and errors, listed in an errata section of the Times Literary Supplement shortly afterwards.[15]
  1. ^ Lawson, Alexander S. "Stanley Morison: Significant Historian (obituary)". The Alexander S. Lawson Archive. Retrieved 14 May 2016. During the 20th century two typographic historians have achieved notable stature and will be long remembered. The first of these, Daniel Berkeley Updike of Boston, died in 1940. The second, Stanley Morison, died at his home in London on October 11, 1967. He was 78 years of age... During the 1920’s when there was slight interest in the production of new “book” types, the Monotype firm—with Morison’s guidance—embarked upon a program of classic type revivals which resulted in the cutting of such faces as Garamond, Bembo, Poliphilus, Baskerville, Bell, and Fournier. These types remain in demand and are among the best of the historic revivals. 
  2. ^ McKitterick, David (2004). A history of Cambridge University Press. (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521308038. 
  3. ^ "Modern". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  4. ^ Shinn, Nick. "Lacunae" (PDF). Codex. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Badaracco, Claire (1991). "Innovative Industrial Design and Modern Public Culture: The Monotype Corporation, 1922-1932" (PDF). Business & Economic History. Business History Conference. 20 (second series): 226–233. Retrieved 19 December 2015. 
  6. ^ "Fonts designed by Monotype Staff". Identifont. Retrieved 1 July 2015. 
  7. ^ Stanley Morison, Nicolas Barker, Macmillan, 1972
  8. ^ Cave, Roderick (1987). "Fanfares, Amazons and Narrow-Boats,". Matrix. 7: 128–147. 
  9. ^ a b c Carter, H. G.; rev. David McKitterick (2004). Morison, Stanley Arthur (1889–1967). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  10. ^ James Moran, Stanley Morison, His typographical achievement, 1971, Lund Humphries London, SBN 85331 300 8
  11. ^ McVarish, Emily (2010). ""The Crystal Goblet": The Underpinnings of Typographic Convention". Design and Culture. 2 (3). 
  12. ^ "Typolis article". Typolis. 1932-10-03. Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  13. ^ Loxley, Simon (2006). Type: the secret history of letters. I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. pp. 130–131. ISBN 1-84511-028-5. 
  14. ^ Nazia Parveen (26 January 2012). "Revealed, the big names who snubbed honours". London: Retrieved 2012-01-26. 
  15. ^ Ovink, G.W. (1 January 1973). "Two Books on Stanley Morison". Quaerendo. 3 (3): 226–242. doi:10.1163/157006973X00237. 
  1. ^ Some in the printing industry continued to find Morison's decision to avoid serving disreputable for many years. The printer Christopher Sandford wrote to the wood-engraver John O'Connor, then serving in the RAF, in 1946, "do wear uniform at the Double Crown Club dinner [in memory of Eric Ravilious, who had died during the war] - I like to show that my collaborators have been serving their country. Francis Meynell and Stanley Morison were conscientious objectors in the 1914-18 war when of military age and I shall never forgive them that."[8]

External links[edit]