THE OLD SCHOOL PRESS

Recorded voices from the world of printing:

John Simmons, one-time Printer's Librarian at Oxford University Press

 
 
 
As well as being a distinguished Slavonic scholar and bibliographer, John Simmons (1915-2005) was Printer's Librarian at Oxford University Press from 1952 to 1953, having been brought in by Printer Charles Batey to give assistance to Stanley Morison in the writing of John Fell, the University press and the 'Fell' types. His reminiscences were of interest to Martyn Thomas for his biography of Carter (Harry Carter, Typographer) and to Martyn Ould for his book on the writing of John Fell - Simmons came to know both Morison and Carter through that collaboration.

Our conversations took place in his home in 2001 (parts 1 and 2), and in the Combination Room at All Souls College, Oxford (where he was a Fellow) in February 2003 (parts 3 and 4).

The photograph of Simmons above was taken in 1967 (copyright OUP).

 
 
 
2001

In the first conversation, Martyn Ould and Martyn Thomas talked to Simmons at his home in Oxford.

 
Part 1. (Martyn Ould begins the conversation.) The writing of John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' types. How Simmons came to be involved in this, and his contribution to the project, in particular his introduction of Harry Carter. (14:20)
Part 2. The four Fascicules printed as part of the preparatory work for  John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' types. A team visit to the Continent. Stanley Morison's character. Harry Carter's character. (17:03)
Part 3. (Martyn Ould begins the section referring to a letter in which Simmons points out a book from 1869 that he has noticed is set in the Fell types.) Establishing which books were printed in Fell types. The role of Mr Bill. (10:51)
Part 4. Simmons shows us one of his bibliographical achievements: a vast two-volume catalogue of paper watermarks. His four categoricals: Conserve, Consider, Contribute and Collaborate. (10:43)
 
 
2003

In this second conversation over tea, Martyn Ould talked to Simmons in the Combination Room at All Souls College, Oxford where he was a Fellow. We talked about work that was done by him, Carter, and Morison in their research on John Fell, the University Press and the 'Fell' types.

 
Part 1. Martyn Ould started by asking about the visits made to the Continent to look for material relating to the origins of the Fell types. Simmons's role and that of Carter and Morison. (13:32)
Part 2. How the book changed in concept as time passed. How Simmons moved out of the project. The punches. (12:32)
 
 
Copyright Martyn Ould 2007.