“Typographer's Dress is Lettered”

 Beatrice Warde during her tour of South Africa in 1957.  Dotman Pretorius Studio of Photography.  The researcher welcomes contact from copyright holders

Beatrice Warde during her tour of South Africa in 1957.  Dotman Pretorius Studio of Photography.  The researcher welcomes contact from copyright holders

In 1957 Beatrice Warde, renowned typographic theoretician and publicity director of Monotype, undertook a promotional tour of South Africa and Australia. Leaving Britain in the summer and returning in December, her lengthy trip involved numerous speaking engagements, interviews and receptions, throughout which she was impeccably presented.  

Discussed in the press, one of Warde’s dresses created interest, “Typographer's Dress is Lettered” said the headline in the Sun Herald on August 25. When asked about her outfit, Warde described it as being ‘off the peg’ from a London department store.  She linked her selection of this dress with her love of calligraphy, explaining her career as staring from her study of this subject, which in turn stimulated her interest in sixteenth century books. Warde recommended her own progress as the best possible one for those with an interest in type and printing. She suggests that first people should study writing. “Take a pen to dinner… It’s a fascinating hobby. You can’t take your flute or your chisel to the dinner table. But you can take your fountain pen”. Warde then produced a double headed fountain pen “something new from America”, borrowed a piece of paper, and proceeding to write Italianate letters in blue and red to illustrate her point.

Warde believed “good handwriting is good manners” and was an advocate of the importance of doodling with a purpose. During her tour Warde returned to this subject, in an Australian interview urging mothers to value the importance of handwriting in their children’s lives “It is as easy to write well as to write badly, so young people may as well learn to write well in the beginning” she said. 

Jessica Glaser