Stanley Morison & ’John Fell’. The story of the writing and printing of Stanley Morison’s book John Fell, the University Press and the ”Fell” types


Ould, Martyn:

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The Old School Press, (Bath). 2003. 141 pages + colophon. 4to (28,5 x 22 cm). De Luxe Edition.
”There are also fifty de luxe copies, following the pattern and format of the well-received de luxe edition of The Fell Revival. In particular, the book is being quarter bound in a winde-red leather by the Fine Bindery [in slipcase]. On the boards there will be another striking marbled paper by Ann Muir on the boards: Ann did a splendid paper for The Fell Revival in the Spanish style (waved and wide-combed), and for this book she has used the same colour combination but this time in a stone pattern. And there will of course be a portfolio of extra materials on and around the subject of the book including materials in Fell. As well as the extra materials and the de luxe binding I’m delighted to have these fifty copies signed by two of the major figures who worked with Morison on John Fell: Vivian Ridler, one-time Printer at Oxford University Press and the man who saw it finally through production, and John Simmons, along with Harry Carter one of Morison’s two ’slaves’ who assisted him with the research and the writing. Vivian has just celebrated his 90th birthday and John is well into his eighties, and having their signatures in the book is a real privilege.
Whilst the machining was in progress all sorts of other materials had to be assembled. In particular, I have twelve splendid photographs that are being tipped in. Eleven are excellent specially-taken shots from the archives of Oxford University Press, and they show all the major characters in the book. The twelfth photograph is a real delight and I am very pleased to be able to have it in the book. Reynolds and Janet Stone were frequently ’at home’ to many intellectual figures in the middle of the last century and Janet Stone made a habit of photographing them (a collection of her photographs is available in Thinking Faces. Photographs 1953-1979, London: Chatto & Windus, 1988). The family albums contain wonderful shots of many great names … often playing table tennis. Amongst them are a number of Stanley Morison, and the photograph that I am using with the kind permission of son Humphrey Stone shows Morison in a rarely captured mood: laughing! He had a sense of humour but the photographs I have seen of him almost invariably show him looking very serious.
All the photographs had first to be digitally scanned and then I resized and arranged the proofs on a single B2 sheet. I checked and double checked my calculations of size before signing off the proofs – one slip can be costly – and the Cloister Press in Cambridge has printed them. The photograph of Morison had to be scanned from a slightly damaged print, and I enlisted the help of a graphic artist friend who is a whizz with a digital airbrush to remove the blemishes before use. The book also has four leaves of books in Fell tipped-in, illustrating four of the commonly used book sizes: Long Primer, Small Pica, Pica, and English.” (Martyn Ould).


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