The papers of Heather Child

Scope and Content

The material in the collection was acquired from Heather Child during her lifetime and after her death. Significant holdings within the collection include examples and photographs of work by HC; lecture notes; material relating to her work on publications including 'The Armorial Bearings of the Guilds of the City of London', 'Lettering in the Twentieth Century' and 'The Calligrapher's Handbook'; and material relating to her involvement in the SSI and Art Workers' Guild. The collection also contains correspondence.

There is a small selection of calligraphic work (CHI/10-13) which HC acquired from the Rev. C.M. Lamb, which may be his own work.

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.


The papers were arranged/listed by the Crafts Study Centre in the late 1990s and were given the reference code '4/'. They were renumbered with the new reference code 'CHI' by Greta Bertram in 2021, with minor adjustments to the arrangement of sub-parts. CHI/60-64 are additions in April 2021 and were not part of the originally listed archive.

  • CHI/1 Pamphlet, 'Writing and Writing Patterns', by Marion Richardson
  • CHI/2 Letter from Therese Fisher to Gilbert Hignet, 1970
  • CHI/3 Material relating to 'Lettering in the Twentieth Century: An illustrated survey of the practice, development and teaching of lettering in Britain this century', 1982-1983
  • CHI/4 Articles by Richard Kindersley and Martin Jennings, and letters from Kindersley to HC, 1980s
  • CHI/5 Journal: 'Typos', no.6, including article by Richard Kindersley and Martin Jennings, 1981
  • CHI/6 Photographs relating to 'Lettering in the Twentieth Century'
  • CHI/7 Letters and postcards from AJ Fairbank to CM Lamb, 1925-1961
  • CHI/8 Letters from John Cackett (Honorary Secretary SSI) to CM Lamb, 1963
  • CHI/9 Handwritten letter from Madelyn Walker to CM Lamb, 1926
  • CHI/10 Rough of manuscript book 'The Song of the Minster', possibly by CM Lamb
  • CHI/11 Calligraphic rough, 'Gratias Agimus Deo', possibly by CM Lamb
  • CHI/12 Calligraphic rough, 'O Spring Day', possibly by CM Lamb
  • CHI/13 Rough of manuscript book, 'Bede Roll', possibly by CM Lamb
  • CHI/14 Photographs of calligraphy and heraldry by HC, 1930s-1991s
  • CHI/15 Photograph of a painting of HC made by Dorothy Colles, c.1950
  • CHI/16 Photographs of heraldry probably designed by HC
  • CHI/17 Photograph of page from a manuscript book 'The Library of John Roland Abbey' by Dorothy Mahoney
  • CHI/18 Papers relating to the SSI and HC's membership, 1935-1991
  • CHI/19 Papers relating to HC's membership of the Art Workers' Guild, 1968-1974
  • CHI/20 Article, 'Edward Johnston and the Twentieth Century', by Justin Howes, 1989
  • CHI/21 Pamphlet, 'A Manuscript Club', by Graily Hewitt
  • CHI/22 Proof of a lecture, 'The Revival of Writing, Lettering and Illuminating', by M.C. Oliver, 1950
  • CHI/23 Family tree of Edward Johnston's pupils by A.O. Colwell, c.1985
  • CHI/24 Letter from George L. Thomson to HC, 1984
  • CHI/25 Book, 'New Calligraphy on an Old Theme', by William Gardner, 1984
  • CHI/26 Information sheet about lettering exhibition at the V&A, 1965
  • CHI/27 Additional photographs of work by HC
  • CHI/28 Further additional photographs of work by HC, 1935-1945
  • CHI/29 Material relating to updates and revisions to 'Armorial Bearings of the Guilds of London' by John Bromley and HC, 1980s
  • CHI/30 Photographs of the Armorial Bearings of the Guilds of London in St Pauls Cathedral by HC
  • CHI/31 Colour proofs of the coats of arms for 'Armorial Bearings of the Guilds of London' by John Bromley and HC
  • CHI/32 Booklet, 'Gold in Manuscript Illumination', by HC
  • CHI/33 Journal, 'The Whiley Monitor', including article by HC, January 1965
  • CHI/34 Pamphlet, 'How to teach The Italic Hand through the Beacon Writing Books' by Alfred Fairbank
  • CHI/35 Booklets in the 'Beacon Writing: A course in Italic' series by Alfred Fairbank
  • CHI/36 Order of service for the Service of Thanksgiving for Alfred Fairbank, 1982
  • CHI/37 Dryad Leaflet No.162 'The Construction of Pen-Written Roman Letters' by Ann Camp, 1959
  • CHI/38 Platignum Writing Booklets
  • CHI/39 Material relating to the SSI's exhibition at the Architectural Association, 1936
  • CHI/40 Christmas card designed by David Jones for Faber & Faber, 1961
  • CHI/41 Society of Designer Craftsmen newsletters, 1981-1985
  • CHI/42 Friends of Calligraphy newsletter/journals, 1983-1986
  • CHI/43 Exhibition catalogues and invitations, 1944-1972
  • CHI/44 Reproductions of Margaret Alexander exemplar sheets
  • CHI/45 Reproductions of Dorothy Mahoney exemplar sheets
  • CHI/46 Photographs and transparencies of letters from Edward Johnston to John Farleigh, 1935
  • CHI/47 Photocopies of material relating to the work of Edward Johnston, 1994
  • CHI/48 Service sheets and obituaries following the death of HC, 1997
  • CHI/49 Christmas and other cards designed by HC and Dorothy Colles
  • CHI/50 Journal, 'Pharmakon: The Parmaceutical World', with illustrations by HC and Alison Urwick
  • CHI/51 Newspaper cuttings relating to calligraphic publications, 1963-1972
  • CHI/52 Material relating to second edition of 'The Calligrapher's Handbook' edited by HC, including correspondence and reviews, 1985-1991
  • CHI/53 Rough trials and correspondence relating to two Collects written out by HC for David Peace, 1971-1991
  • CHI/54 Printed statement, 'Calligraphy', by Heather Child
  • CHI/55 Typescripts of lectures given by HC, 1971-1981
  • CHI/56 Reproduction of a drawing of Sydney Cockerell by D.W. Hawksley, 1952
  • CHI/57 Photograph of William Morris
  • CHI/58 Journals, 'The Whiley Monitor', 1962-1966
  • CHI/59 Material relating to the 'Guilds of the City of London': background information, photos, drawings (probably not by HC) and correspondence, 1980s
  • CHI/60 Printed demonstration sheets by Mary White
  • CHI/61 Printed cards with calligraphy by Mary White
  • CHI/62 Invitation cards for exhibitions
  • CHI/63 Printed information sheet about the work of the SSI
  • CHI/64 Handwritten letter from Hanni Bailey to HC, 26 January 1967

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


This entry was compiled by Greta Bertram, Curator, Crafts Study Centre, April 2021.

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available on request.

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