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Historical context >> Edward Johnston
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Edward Johnston

Following Walker's lecture William Morris established the Kelmscott Press, the first enterprise in what became a revival of private press printing in Britain. Morris had begun experimenting with manuscript writing as early as 1850's and continued to produce such work well into the 1890's. But the man who eventually pioneered the calligraphic revival was Edward Johnston.

Johnston was introduced to W. R. Lethaby, Principal of the Central School of Arts and Crafts in April 1898. Johnston had recently given up training to be a Doctor in Edinburgh and had moved to live in London near the British Museum, he had decided to go in for art. He had already produced a series of small manuscript Illuminations. Johnston's meeting with Lethaby happened within hours of his arriving in London (see Edward Johnston by Priscilla Johnston, Faber and Faber, London 1959. pp.72-9). It is difficult to appreciate what Lethaby saw in the work Johnston showed him (most of it owned by the Craft Study Centre). The conclusion must be that it was Johnston's mind and personality that convinced him this was the man to lead the long awaited calligraphic revival.



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