The working papers of Margaret Alexander

Scope and Content

This material was given to the Crafts Study Centre in 1988 by Heather Child, acting on behalf of Margaret Alexander. It contains roughs and trials of MA's work, reproductions, photos, correspondence and other papers relating to her work, gilding trials and recipes, and many examples of her printed Christmas cards and the work leading up to them. There are also some archival papers and articles of general calligraphic interest.

Administrative / Biographical History

Margaret Alexander was born on 2nd June 1902. Her mother's illness led her father to retire from teaching and move his family from Hampstead to Walberswick in Suffollk. The family was artistic, her father a silversmith and her mother a painter and musician, and both Margaret and her younger sister Catharine studied at the Slade School of Art. Margaret studied drawing and painting under Henry Tonks, and lettering at the Central School of Arts and Crafts under Graily Hewitt. In the years 1930-1933, she had private calligraphy lessons with Edward Johnston at his house in Ditchling.

She was elected a craft member of the Society of Scribes & Illuminators in 1924. She served as the Society's secretary, 1928-1931, and had pieces in all its exhibitions from the 1930s to the 1970s. She was Calligrapher to the House of Lords, 1926-1963, and taught writing, lettering and illumination at the Slade School of Art, one day per week, 1928-1957.

Her major commissions include the Ampleforth Abbey Book of Benefactors and the British Medical Association Book of Valour, and she was one of several calligraphers working on the Lifeboat Memorial Book.


The papers were arranged by Heather Collins on behalf of the Crafts Study Centre in the 1988 and were given the reference code '7/'. They were renumbered with the new reference code 'MAP' by Greta Bertram in 2021, with minor adjustments to the arrangement of sub-parts.

  • MAP/1 Commissions Book, 1928-1976
  • MAP/2 Artwork and finished work by MA, 1918-1971
  • MAP/3 Work for Philip Hofer, 1953-1959
  • MAP/4 Ampleforth Abbey Book of Benefactors, 1950-1962
  • MAP/5 Lifeboat Memorial Book, 1970s
  • MAP/6 British Medical Association Book of Valour, 1955-1964
  • MAP/7 House of Lords patents
  • MAP/8 Roughs and trials for various works
  • MAP/9 Christmas cards designed by MA
  • MAP/10 Gilding experiments, gesso recipes and gilding notes
  • MAP/11 Book jacket designs and repeat patterns by MA
  • MAP/12 Reproductions of lettering on maps done for the Admiralty, c.1940-1942
  • MAP/13 Reproductions of exemplar sheets by MA, 1937-1949
  • MAP/14 Photographs of work by MA: royal addresses; addresses and tributes; memorial books; historic texts etc., 1927-1967
  • MAP/15 Reproductions of work by MA (prints, newspaper clippings etc): book jackets, letter headings, notices, advertisements, book plates etc.
  • MAP/16 Publications relating to work of other calligraphers, 1945-1972
  • MAP/17 Additional material relating to writing sheets and Christmas cards (notebook, orders, receipts and enquiries), 1948-1963

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


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

Other Finding Aids

A handlist is available on request.

Conditions Governing Use

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

Appraisal Information

None timetabled.


None expected.

Related Material

The Crafts Study Centre also holds:

  • The papers of Margaret Alexander (ALE)