Heather Child correspondence

Scope and Content

Letters to Heather Child: from and re Beatrice Warde, 1961-1969 (including about her map of Printing Schools of Great Britain) and from Priscilla Johnston, 1961-1972, mainly about her editing of Edward Johnston's Formal Penmanship .

Administrative / Biographical History

Heather Child (1911-1997) was described in her obituary in The Independent as 'the most distinguished calligrapher living in England, where her revered master, Edward Johnston (1872-1944), revived the art at the end of the last century. Besides her own work, which stretched over 70 years, she did more than anyone else to 'propagate Johnston's gospel'. She was one of the many calligraphers who worked under the direction of Alfred Fairbank on the Royal Air Force and American Air Force Books of Remembrance, and she designed the heraldry for the Lifeboat Service Memorial Book. Her work in ornamental cartography included a map of the Wessex of Thomas Hardy's Novels, and the map of the Printing Schools of England, presented to Beatrice Warde, and she published the book Decorated Maps in 1956. She illustrated the Collins Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers (1956), and took a special delight in heraldic draughtsmanship, writing the book Heraldic Design (1965).

Her outstanding achievement was her writing on calligraphy. Three editions of Calligraphy Today (1963, 1976 and 1988), a chronicle of its revival, two of The Calligrapher's Handbook (1976, 1985), were all her own work. But perhaps even more important was the achievement of finally getting Edward Johnston's long-planned, never-finished, manual of writing into print, Formal Penmanship in 1971 and Lessons in Formal Writing (with Justin Howes) in 1986.

She was the first Chairman of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators in 1964, reorganising it in the difficult period after the resignation of Alfred Fairbank from the presidency, and again in 1971. She was also Chairman of the Federation of British Craft Societies and a trustee both of the Art Workers' Guild and the Crafts Study Centre.


  • HCC/1 Letters to Heather Child from and re Beatrice Warde, 1961-1969
  • HCC/2 Letters to Heather Child from Priscilla Johnston, 1961-1972

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This entry was compiled by Greta Bertram, Crafts Study Centre Curator, June 2020.

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

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