Justin Howes's Edward Johnston papers

Scope and Content

These papers comprise the records of JH's work on Edward Johnston, and include Johnston-related papers generated by Heather Child, bequeathed to JH on Child's death; JH's catalogue of the Edward Johnston works in the Crafts Study Centre, annotated with new information; and a draft of JH's book re-assessing Johnston's work, with the material collected by JH for his research.

Administrative / Biographical History

Justin Howes was born in 1963, and became interested in printing and letter forms during his schooldays at Dulwich College. He wrote to Edward Johnston's daughter and biographer, Priscilla Roworth (Priscilla Johnston), which led to his work with Heather Child, MBE, editing Lessons in formal writing (Lund Humphries, 1986), a collection of Edward Johnston's writings, published and unpublished, and tributes to him. Howes enjoyed the friendship of Heather Child and her companion Dorothy Colles for the rest of Child's life, and wrote her obituary notices for The Times and for The Scribe.

After graduation from Oxford University, Howes was employed by the Crafts Study Centre to catalogue its collection of Edward Johnston's work (published 1987) and he then spent a year at the Cecil Higgins Art Gallery in Bedford, designing Edward Bawden's last exhibition, the catalogue of which was published as 'a retrospective study' in 1988. However, Johnston was still his major interest, and his proposal to write a reassessment of Johnston's art was accepted by the publishing house B.T. Batsford, Ltd.

Howes undertook freelance lecturing and design work, including the writing and design of the manuals for 3B2 typesetting software, which led to research based at Manchester Metropolitan University in 1995-96. He bought and experimented with presses and metal type, which were being discontinued with the spread of computer typesetting, and he was instrumental in saving the materials which had been accumulated at Stephenson, Blake, Ltd, of Sheffield.

He sat on the Acquisitions Committee of the Crafts Study Centre, and was Chairman of the friends of the St Bride Printing Library and part-time curator of the National Museum of Type and Communication. His re-assessment of Johnston's work was never published, but he did design London Transport's book Johnston's Underground Type (Capital Transport Publishing, 2000). He had begun studies for a PhD at Reading University on the development of letter forms and concepts of lettering when he died on 21 February 2005.

Heather Child (1911-1997) had studied calligraphy at Chelsea School of Art before the Second World War, under M.C. Oliver, an early student of Edward Johnston. Her published works included Decorative Maps and Heraldic Design (both 1956), and she edited Johnston's Formal Penmanship (1971). When Justin Howes contacted her about providing a bibliography for the volume of tributes to Johnston which she was planning, she invited him to join more fully with her in production of the work, and Lessons in formal writing was published by Lund Humphries in 1986.

Child lived for nearly fifty years with her friend Dorothy Colles (1917-2003), in London until 1977 and then in Petersfield, Hampshire, until her death on 18th June 1997. Howes designed the order of service for her memorial service, and he inherited many of her books, the files which she had kept from their production of Lessons in formal writing and many letters from him. These papers throw much light on Howes himself, since Child and Colles came to be close friends, advisers and helpers, taking on a godmotherly role in his life.


  • JHJ/1 Heather Child's papers
  • JHJ/2 Letters to Howes from Heather Child and Dorothy Colles, and obituaries of Heather Child
  • JHJ/3 Howes's catalogue of Edward Johnston material at the Crafts Study Centre
  • JHJ/4 Book, The Art of Edward Johnston
  • JHJ/5 Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
  • JHJ/6 Photographs of works by Johnston
  • JHJ/7 Source materials 1931-1980

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Shirley Dixon, Crafts Study Centre Archivist, in April 2020.

Other Finding Aids

Catalogue on Crafts Study Centre database. A pdf copy is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

Written permission must be sought before any archival material is published.

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.

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