Women Designing

Beatrice Warde (1900-1969)

An exhibition board showcasing Beatrice WardeBeatrice Warde was born in America. Her father was a composer and gifted music teacher. Her mother, Mary Lamberton Becker ran a lively column of advice and started the first weekly children’s page in the New York Herald Tribune. Warde inherited her father’s ‘vocal’ communication skills and her mother’s professional writing skills.

At school Warde had an interest in calligraphy and letter-forms and had an unusual ability to draw letters. In 1921 she obtained a degree from Barnard College, and became Assistant Librarian at the Typographical Library and Museum of the American Type Founders Company in Jersey City. She married Frederic Warde, in 1922.

In 1925, Warde sailed to Europe with her husband, to research typefaces. The following year she published two articles under the name of Paul Beaujon in The Fleuron, edited by Stanley Morison. During this year she met and became friendly with Eric Gill, who did several drawings of her. ‘Paul Beaujon’ was invited to take up the post of editor of The Monotype Recorder in 1927. She accepted and moved permanently to England.

Warde’s connections with Gill continued. She was the model for his nude drawing ‘La Belle Sauvage’, used for the Cassell’s colophon in 1929. With a new post in 1929 as head of the Monotype Corporation’s Publicity Department she helped promote his typefaces. Gill’s Perpetua titling was particularly publicised by her broadside ‘This is a Printing Office’. In 1932 Warde initiated, edited and designed the Monotype Newsletter. The imagination she used in showing new typefaces made these Newsletters some of the most stimulating pieces of communication design in the country.

From 1927 to 1960 Warde toured printing schools in England, talking to apprentices about the need for good printing and typography. Her influence was great. She consciously emphasised her femininity in a male dominated profession that could have doubted her credibility.

In 1955, The Crystal Goblet, a book of her collected essays was published. Many people today remember, and have been influenced by her enthusiasm.


Image captions left to right from the top
1. Beatrice Warde.
2. Beatrice Warde in front of the plaque, ‘This is a Printing Office’ at the US Government Printing Office, Washington.
3. Pages from the ‘Monotype Newsletter’, designed by Beatrice Warde. October 1936 and January 1936 (2 images).
4. Nude drawings of Beatrice Warde by Eric Gill. The drawing showing Warde as ‘La Belle Sauvage’, was used for the book publishers, Cassell’s colophon. The black line drawing was used for the trade editions, and the white line for the title page of the limited edition of Gill’s book ‘Art Nonsense’, published in 1929 (2 images).
5. Detail of Warde’s signature from the ‘Monotype Newsletter’.
Photographs by Michelle Williams from St Brides Printing Library, Corporation of London.

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Sirpa Kutilainen • November 12, 2015

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