The Justin Howes Memorial Lecture: The Commanded Letter: writing, engraving, and typography in 18th Century London

John Hudson

20 May 2021

7.00–8.30pm (Doors 6.30pm)

Tickets: £8–12.50

Between the 1690s and mid-18th Century, English writing masters, mostly based in London in the environs of St Paul's Cathedral, collaborated with engravers to define a rich textual aesthetic parallel to and in tension with contemporary trends in typography. This aesthetic commanded, among other things, the invention of a new style of ‘print’ letter: a neoclassical roman that would not find typographic expression until John Baskerville’s types of the 1750s. By that date, this ‘English Roman’ had become a standard part of a writing master’s repertoire, explored in a wide range of weights, sizes, and constructions. In this heavily illustrated talk, John Hudson looks at the genesis of this style, and the aesthetic, social, and technological contexts in which it developed.

John Hudson designs typefaces and makes fonts. As co-founder of Tiro Typeworks Ltd., a digital foundry specialising in custom font solutions for multilingual publishing and computing, he has been responsible for or has collaborated on type designs for Arabic, Bengali, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Ethiopic, Greek, Gurmukhi, Hebrew, Latin, Odia, Sinhala, Telugu, Thai, and other scripts. Tiro’s clients include software companies such as Adobe and Microsoft, and scholarly publishers such as Brill and Harvard University Press, and the STIpub consortium of scientific publishers.

Justin Howes died on 21 February 2005. A good friend to the St Bride Library and the wider typographic community in 1999 he founded the original Friends of St Bride Library with James Mosley. He was not only a distinguished scholar, whose wide-ranging research was making an important contribution to our understanding of the types and lettering of the past, but he also put that scholarship into practice, learning to cast type by hand and to demonstrate to others the techniques of a secretive and mysterious trade. This annual lecture series is given in his memory.

Book online HERE

Ticket is non-refundable, however you are welcome to offer your ticket to another person or reschedule the date of your visit. Please contact [email protected] to change the date/event of your booking at least 7 days prior to the event date.

Part of our ‘Celebrating 125 Years of St Bride Library’, this lecture series has kindly been sponsored by:


Commercial Type

Eye Magazine

Eric de Bellaigue

Jerry Wright

Just Another Foundry

Klim Type Foundry

Lexon GB, Creative & Innovative Print

Mayor of London

Medioto - Graphics & Animation

Peter Longland


Type By

Usborne Publishing

and The Wynkyn de Worde Charitable Trust who have sponsored students and recent graduates across the UK to attend this lecture.