The Hubert Foss Archive

Scope and Content

The bulk of the collection spans the period from the beginning of Foss' Oxford University Press career in 1921 to the time of his death. Records dated after this time relate to the Double Crown Club and were added to the collection by Hubert Foss' brother, Christopher Foss, who kept up the connection with the club and continued to gather material, and daughter Diana Sparkes, who created facsimiles of material to add to the collection.

The focus of the collection is on records accumulated through his role as a Double Crown Club member. Approximately one third of records were accumulated through his roles at the Oxford University Press and Henderson and Spalding printing company or through the activities of his professional life in general. Amongst these records there is a focus on the printing of music.

The collection includes correspondence, publications, privately printed books, booklets and leaflets and handwritten notes relating to business matters, history, key personalities and techniques in printing. It also includes examples resulting from different printing methods, including an extensive set of menus designed by members of the Double Crown Club, and other memorabilia.

Administrative / Biographical History

Hubert Foss (1899-1953), editor, pianist, composer, printer, critic and broadcaster was born in Croydon on 2 May 1899. Employed by Humphrey Milford at the London Office of the Oxford University Press as a sales representative in education in 1921, he went on to build up the new Music department at Amen House as the first Musical Editor, 1923-1941. He also worked [during the 1920s and 1930s] as Typographic Adviser for Henderson and Spalding, a printing company in Camberwell run by Double Crown Club member, 1925-1955, Harold Vesey Strong and based at the Sylvan Press, Sylvan Grove and later at Shaftesbury Avenue. After his resignation from the Oxford University Press in 1941, he went on to act in a number of freelance roles relating to the criticism of music. His publications include 'Ralph Vaughan Williams, O.M., a Study' (1950) and a number of articles about the printing of music. He was also known for editing the writings of Donald Francis Tovey. Foss was a founding member of the Double Crown Club, which originated with his friend Oliver Simon. The club was created to faciliate the exchange of ideas on 'good printing'. It held four to six dinners a year and considered only those with certain achievements in printing for election to membership. A designer was appointed for each dinner who would create a printed menu to be dissucssed at the meal and internal and external speakers often attended to talk on printing related subjects. Originally, it was intended that two books would be 'crowned' by the club each year as the best current examples of literary and typographical merit, but this process proved to subjective and was abandoned in 1927. Foss was the first Honorary Secretary of the Club, 1924-1925, sat on the committee twice, 1924-1926; 1933-1937, and served as its president in 1936. He remained an active member of the club until his death in London on 27 May 1953.


The records have been arranged into four series in order to reflect their original functions and the order in which they were received. These series are: Correspondence, Publications, Double Crown Club Memorabilia and Music Printing notes.

Access Information

The University Archives and Special Collections Centre is open 1-5pm Mon-Fri. It is advisable to make an appointment before visiting the archive; this can be done via email at or by phone on 020 7514 9333.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Diana Sparkes on 30 July 2009.

Other Finding Aids

The full description for the collection can be seen on the online catalogue .

Conditions Governing Use

Limited copying for academic purposes is allowed.

Custodial History

This collection was accumulated by Hubert Foss, with a few additions made after his death by his brother Christopher Foss and daughter Diana Sparkes. These additions are identified at item level. After he died, his collections were transferred to Christopher Foss and they later passed into the custody of Diana Sparkes, who created a distinct file of Double Crown Club memorabilia in a red ringbinder, numbering some of the contents. She donated the collection to the University of the Arts, London on 30 July 2009.

Reproductions of items of Double Crown Club memorabilia (HF/3/2) were made from originals kept in Hubert Foss' 'Commonplace Book', which remains in the custody of Diana Sparkes, who intends to bequeath it to the Oxford University Press Archive. The reproductions were donated by Diana Sparkes in January 2011.