Stanley Morison (6 May 1889 – 11 October 1967) was an influential British typographer, printing executive and historian of printing. Largely self-educated, he promoted higher standards in printing and an awareness of the best printing and typefaces of the past.
From the 1920s Morison became 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 middle period of printing from the Renaissance to the late eighteenth-century, and creating and licensing several new type designs that would become popular. Original typefaces commissioned under Morison's involvement included Times New Roman, Gill Sans and Perpetua, while revivals of older designs included Bembo, Ehrhardt and Bell. Times New Roman, the development of which Morison led to the point that he felt he could consider it his own design, has become one of the most used typefaces of all time. Becoming closely connected to The Times newspaper as an advisor on printing, he became part of its management and the editor of the Times Literary Supplement after the war, and late in life joined the editorial board of Encyclopædia Britannica.
Early life and career
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. 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.[note 1] Like his friend Eric Gill, Morison was a convert to Catholicism, distancing him from many of his later colleagues. Morison married Mabel Williamson, a teacher, in 1916; the marriage was an unhappy one and Morison rapidly separated from his wife.
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. 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.
With the Monotype Corporation
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 historical typefaces, including the revival of the Bembo and Bell types. He pioneered the great expansion of the company's range of typefaces, and hugely influenced the field of typography to the present day. At Monotype, Morison obtained rights to typefaces by leading artists of the time including Bruce Rogers, Jan van Krimpen and Berthold Wolpe. Aesthetically, Morison disliked the excessive historicity of Victorian romantic fine printing, with its interest in reviving blackletter and the appearance of medieval manuscripts, but preferred a more restrained style of printing that nonetheless also rejected the harshly industrial appearance of the "batteries of bold, bad faces" of the nineteenth century.
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. Morison and Warde helped edit Monotype's newsletter, the Monotype Recorder, which promoted Monotype equipment and provided tips for users, showcased examples of high-quality printing and included articles on printing history, several by Morison's collaborator Alfred F. Johnson, a curator at the British Museum. Through Daniel Berkeley Updike, the leading figure in American printing of the time with whom he carried an extensive correspondence, he became aware of an obscure late-eighteenth century type known as Bell in the archives of Sheffield type foundry Stephenson Blake, and arranged for Monotype to license and recreate it. While not all his projects at Monotype were successful and his position was insecure at the start of his tenure, his commission of Gill Sans and even more so Times New Roman both proved extremely financially successful for Monotype. Both remain among the most-used typefaces of all time.
Morison became friends with Brooke Crutchley, printer to the University of Cambridge, one of Monotype's best customers, and his archives went to Cambridge after his death. Late in life, for Crutchley he wrote the book A Tally of Types, an assessment of the typefaces created by Monotype that were used in Cambridge. Despite its limited scope and some oversights, it is considered one of the landmark books on twentieth-century printing.
As a writer for the Fleuron he was known for promoting the radical idea that italics in book printing were too disruptive to the flow of text, and should be phased out. While this influenced some contemporary type designers such as van Krimpen and Dwiggins at Linotype, Morison rapidly came to concede that the idea was misguided, and late in life commented that Times New Roman included an italic that "owed more to Didot than dogma."
Times New Roman
Morison was also typographical consultant to The Times newspaper from 1929 to 1960; and in 1931, having 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. Morison edited the History of the Times from 1935 to 1952, and was editor of The Times Literary Supplement between 1945 and 1948.
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. He was offered a knighthood in 1953 and the CBE in 1962, but declined both.
Morison died in London on 11 October 1967.
- On Type Faces, Examples of the use of type for the printing of books: with an introductory essay & notes by Stanley Morison, The Medici Society of Seven, Grafton St, London, & The Fleuron, Westminster, 1923
- 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 list of Typespecimens, The Bibliographic Society, London, 1942, printed at the Oxford University Press
- In 1937 at the start of the war, Harry Carter (typographer), Ellic Howe, Alfred F. Johnson, Stanley Morison & Graham Pollard started to produce a list of all known pre-1800 type specimens. This project was completed and published April 1940. Because of the war many libraries at the European continent were not accessible anymore.
- English Prayer Books, 1943; revised edition 1945; revised and enlarged edition 1949; digital reprint 2009
- 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.
Notes and references
- 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."
- Lawson, Alexander S. "Stanley Morison: Significant Historian (obituary)". The Alexander S. Lawson Archive. Archived from the original on 27 May 2016. 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 1920s 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.
- Morison, Stanley (1937). "Type Designs of the Past and Present, Part 3". PM: 17–81. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
- Morison, Stanley (1937). "Type Designs of the Past and Present, Part 4". PM: 61–81. Retrieved 4 June 2017.
- Allan Haley (15 September 1992). Typographic Milestones. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 99–108. ISBN 978-0-471-28894-7.
- Moran, James (1968). "Stanley Morison" (PDF). Monotype Recorder. 43 (3): 28. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
- Flower, Desmond (1946). "Notes on the Present State of British Book Typography". Graphis: 366–373. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
- McKitterick, David (2004). A history of Cambridge University Press (1. publ. ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521308038.
- "Modern". MyFonts. Monotype. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- Shinn, Nick. "Lacunae" (PDF). Codex. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- 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.
- "Fonts designed by Monotype Staff". Identifont. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
- William Roger Louis (1996). Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics, and Culture in Britain. I.B.Tauris. pp. 140–4. ISBN 978-1-86064-115-2.
- Stanley Morison, Nicolas Barker, Macmillan, 1972
- Poole, Stephen (January 1982). "Stanley Morison: Catholic and Man of Letters". The Heythrop Journal. 23 (1): 51–55. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2265.1982.tb00629.x.
- Cave, Roderick (1987). "Fanfares, Amazons and Narrow-Boats". Matrix. 7: 128–147.
- Malcolm Yorke (7 July 2000). Eric Gill: Man of Flesh and Spirit. Tauris Parke Paperbacks. pp. 262–4. ISBN 978-1-86064-584-6.
- Tom Burns (1 March 1993). The Use of Memory: Publishing and Further Pursuits. A&C Black. pp. 136–141. ISBN 978-0-7220-9450-1.
- Carter, H. G.; rev. David McKitterick (2004). Morison, Stanley Arthur (1889–1967). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press.
- James Moran, Stanley Morison, His typographical achievement, 1971, Lund Humphries London, SBN 85331 300 8
- van Krimpen, Jan. "Letter from van Krimpen to Morison". Monotype Archive. Retrieved 17 September 2015.
- Loxley, Simon (2006). Type: the secret history of letters. I. B. Tauris & Co. Ltd. pp. 130–131. ISBN 1-84511-028-5.
- McVarish, Emily (2010). ""The Crystal Goblet": The Underpinnings of Typographic Convention". Design and Culture. 2 (3).
- Mosley, James. "Talbot Baines Reed, typefounder and sailor". Typefoundry. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
- McKitterick, Savid (1979). Stanley Morison & DB Updike: Selected Correspondence. New York: Moretus Press. ISBN 9780896790018.
- Johnston, Alastair (2014). Transitional Faces: The Lives & Work of Richard Austin, type-cutter, and Richard Turner Austin, wood-engraver. Berkeley: Poltroon Press. ISBN 0918395321. Retrieved 8 February 2017.
- Stanley Morison (1 October 2009). The English Newspaper, 1622-1932: An Account of the Physical Development of Journals Printed in London. Cambridge University Press. pp. 185–201. ISBN 978-0-521-12269-6.
- Stanley Morison (19 November 2009). John Bell, 1745-1831: A Memoir. Cambridge University Press. pp. 15–25. ISBN 978-0-521-14314-1.
- Mosley, James (2001). "Review: A Tally of Types". Journal of the Printing History Society. 3, new series: 63–67.
- Sebastian Carter. "Obituary: Brooke Crutchley | Media". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
- Morison, Stanley (1973). A Tally of Types. Cambridge. ISBN 9780521200431.
- Wardle, Tiffany (2000). The story of Perpetua (PDF). University of Reading. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2006-11-10. Retrieved 2009-03-26.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- Mosley, James. "Eric Gill's Perpetua Type". Fine Print.
- Morison, Stanley. "Changing the Times". Eye. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- Morison, Stanley (7 June 1973). A Tally of Types. CUP Archive. pp. 124–5. ISBN 978-0-521-09786-4.
- Tracy, Walter. Letters of Credit. pp. 194–212.
- Rhatigan, Dan. "Time and Times again". Monotype. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
- Rhatigan, Dan. "It was never called Times Old Roman". Ultrasparky. Retrieved 27 July 2015.
- "Typolis article". Typolis. 1932-10-03. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- 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.
- 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)