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Beatrice L. Warde

Born in New York in 1900, she died in London in 1969. A typographer, writer, and art historian, she worked for the British Monotype Corporation for most of her life, and was famous for her energy, enthusiasm and speeches. Collaborator of Stanley Morison. She created a typeface called Arrighi. She is famous for The Crystal Goblet or Printing Should be Invisible (The Crystal Goblet, Sixteen Essays on Typography, Cleveland, 1956, and Sylvan Press, London, 1955), which is also reproduced here and here. The text was originally printed in London in 1932, under the pseudonym Paul Beaujon. Here are two passages:

  • Imagine that you have before you a flagon of wine. You may choose your own favorite vintage for this imaginary demonstration, so that it be a deep shimmering crimson in colour. You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than to hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.
  • Bear with me in this long-winded and fragrant metaphor; for you will find that almost all the virtues of the perfect wine-glass have a parallel in typography. There is the long, thin stem that obviates fingerprints on the bowl. Why? Because no cloud must come between your eyes and the fiery heart of the liquid. Are not the margins on book pages similarly meant to obviate the necessity of fingering the type-page? Again: the glass is colourless or at the most only faintly tinged in the bowl, because the connoisseur judges wine partly by its colour and is impatient of anything that alters it. There are a thousand mannerisms in typography that are as impudent and arbitrary as putting port in tumblers of red or green glass! When a goblet has a base that looks too small for security, it does not matter how cleverly it is weighted; you feel nervous lest it should tip over. There are ways of setting lines of type which may work well enough, and yet keep the reader subconsciously worried by the fear of 'doubling' lines, reading three words as one, and so forth.

Drawing of her by Eric Gill. Life story.

Beatrice Warde was educated at Barnard College, Columbia, where she studied calligraphy and letterforms. From 1921 until 1925, she was the assistant librarian at American Type Founders. In 1925, she married the book and type designer Frederic Warde, who was Director of Printing at the Princeton University Press. Together, they moved to Europe, where Beatrice worked on The Fleuron: A Journal of Typography (Cambridge, England: At the University Press, and New York: Doubleday Doran, 1923-1930), which was at that time edited by Stanley Morison. As explained above, she is best known for an article she published in the 1926 issue of The Fleuron, written under the pseudonym Paul Beaujon, which traced types mistakenly attributed to Garamond back to Jean Jannon. In 1927, she became editor of The Monotype Recorder in London. Rebecca Davidson of the Princeton University Library wrote in 2004: Beatrice Warde was a believer in the power of the printed word to defend freedom, and she designed and printed her famous manifesto, This Is A Printing Office, in 1932, using Eric Gill's Perpetua typeface. She rejected the avant-garde in typography, believing that classical forms provided a "clearly polished window" through which ideas could be communicated. The Crystal Goblet: Sixteen Essays on Typography (1955) is an anthology of her writings. Wood engraved portrait of Warde by Bernard Brussel-Smith (1950).

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file name: Beatrice L Warde Portrait by Bernard Brussel Smith 1950


file name: beatricewarde by ericgill


file name: Beatrice Warde Pic







Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html