The papers of Margaret Alexander

Scope and Content

The papers of Margaret Alexander: autobiographical notes, cards designed by MA, memorabilia of Edward Johnston, including MA's correspondence with Edward and Greta Johnston, 1930-1939 (61 letters and postcards), and a few writing exercises by Johnston, letters about MA's teaching and work, 1930-1963, including from Henry Tonks, Emile Legouis, Dorothy Hutton and Wendy Westover, and about works placed in museums, 1932-1986, cards designed by MA [1950s], newspaper cuttings re calligraphy, 1935-1957, and a photograph of MA, 1982.

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.


  • ALE/1 Autobiographical
  • ALE/2 Memorabilia of Edward Johnston
  • ALE/2/1 Correspondence with Edward and Greta Johnston 1930-1939
  • ALE/2/2 Reminiscences of Margaret Alexander
  • ALE/2/3 'Pattern for EJ's Notebook'
  • ALE/2/4 Notes and exercises by Johnston
  • ALE/3 Letters re her teaching and work
  • ALE/4 Appreciation of commissioned work
  • ALE/5 Other letters of appreciation
  • ALE/6 Acknowledgements of accessions to repositories
  • ALE/7 Cards designed by MA
  • ALE/8 Newspaper cuttings re calligraphy 1935-1957
  • ALE/9 Photograph of Margaret Alexander 1982

Access Information

Archive material may be viewed by appointment only.


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

Other Finding Aids

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

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Appraisal Information

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