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THE OLD SCHOOL PRESS

Stanley Morison's great book John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' types

The front cover

The book is 15 in. high and 10 in. wide with a grey dust-jacket. Even when he was very ill, Morison was commenting on the design of the front of the jacket, dictating a letter to his secretary: 'As to the display of the jacket, I would wish to see it rubricated but in the style of the Oxford Order of The Lord's Supper printed in 1911. The title page is rubricated in a manner that was conventional among book-binders of Fell's period and I suggest you consider the proof marked in red in that style. Apart from this I have no wish to express or comment to make except perhaps to say that, unlike the 1911 book, the border might be retained in black. But as to this the Press can please itself.'


The title page

Even the wording of the title page was to generate a flurry of correspondence, centred principally on the question of how the three main collaborators - Morison, Carter, and Simmons - were to be recognised. In the event Simmons had his reward in the Preface, and the title page read 'by Stanley Morison with the assistance of Harry Carter'.
Printer Vivian Ridler found the portrait of John Fell in Bristol Art Gallery, but was rather rebuffed by Carter in the latter's characteristic way as Ridler recalled: 'I came back saying 'wonderful, we've got this portrait of Fell' but Carter looked at it and sort of shook his head and said 'I doubt that that is Fell'. He was a wonderful man, Carter, one of the plainest speakers.' The Old School Press is publishing a tribute and bibliography for Carter in 2004 - click on the 'plans' button for details.


An opening

The coverage of the book was to be a matter of considerable contention, with the collaborators divided as to where the line should be drawn. In the event, Part I of the book dealt with Fell and his lifetime, whilst Part II covered the types themselves, in particular showing all the available faces, some in sample pages.
The main text was set in the English (about 14pt) size. Each chapter was opened with one of the magnificent decorated initials from Fell's bequest.

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