This book is concerned with the eighteenth-century typographer, printer, industrialist and Enlightenment figure, John Baskerville (1707-75). Baskerville was a Birmingham inventor, entrepreneur and artist with a worldwide reputation who made eighteenth-century Birmingham a city without typographic equal, by changing the course of type design. Baskerville not only designed one of the world’s most historically important typefaces, he also experimented with casting and setting type, improved the construction of the printing-press, developed a new kind of paper and refined the quality of printing inks. His typographic experiments put him ahead of his time, had an international impact and did much to enhance the printing and publishing industries of his day. Yet despite his importance, fame and influence many aspects of Baskerville’s work and life remain unexplored and his contribution to the arts, industry, culture and society of the Enlightenment are largely unrecognized. Moreover, recent scholarly research in archaeology, art and design, history, literary studies and typography, is leading to a fundamental reassessment of many aspects of Baskerville’s life and impact, including his birthplace, his work as an industrialist, the networks which sustained him and the reception of his printing in Britain and overseas. The last major, but inadequate publication of Baskerville dates from 1975. Now, forty years on, the time is ripe for a new book. This interdisciplinary approach provides an original contribution to printing history, eighteenth-century studies and the dissemination of ideas.
Professor Caroline Archer-Parré is Co-Director of the Centre for Printing History and Culture, and Chairman of the Baskerville Society, at Birmingham City University.
Malcolm Dick is Director of the Centre for West Midlands History and Lecturer in Regional and Local History at the University of Birmingham. He was Director of two community history projects in Birmingham between 2000 and 2004: the Millennibrum Project, which created a multi-media archive of post-1945 Birmingham history and Revolutionary Players which created a digital resources of the history of the West Midlands region. Malcolm is also Editor in Chief of History West Midlands magazine.
'A fascinating account of the printer, type designer, and manufacturer, John Baskerville, which sheds new light on the history of this polymathic figure. Focusing on previously unexplored details of his personal life, the book explores his contribution to fields beyond printing, and his relationship with the broader technologies and ideas of Enlightenment Birmingham.'
Dr Freya Gowrley, University of Edinburgh
239 x 163 mm
32 B&W illustrations
December 31, 2017
Eighteenth-Century Worlds 7