In Search of Emery Walker

Oct 29 2019 19:00 - 20:30

St Bride Foundation, 14 Bride Ln, EC4Y 8EQ London

Tuesday 29 October 2019

7.00–8.30pm (Doors 6.30pm)

Tickets: £10–15

You can visit his house, walk around his home and see the furnishings and pictures that he acquired, the objects and mementos that he bought. But while working with the Emery Walker Trust in 2016 prior to Emery Walker’s House reopening the following year, Simon Loxley felt that a real sense of the man himself was strangely absent. His role as inspiration and facilitator for the private press movement – most notably through the Kelmscott, Doves, Ashendene and Cranach presses – and in the raising of general standards in printing and typography, is well-known among designers, bibliophiles and lovers of fine print.

The effects of his contributions spread to the United States and mainland Europe, and the ripple of their influence helped determine the design ethos of the twentieth century and beyond. Yet Walker seems largely reflected through the work of others. Bernard Newdigate of the Shakespeare Head Press wrote: ‘Others besides myself would gladly and gratefully own that nearly everything that is worth anything in their own practice as printers comes directly or indirectly from his counsel and example.’ Philip Webb called him ‘the Universal Samaritan’. Yet despite being described as ‘the most lovable of men’, he was nevertheless a protagonist in the bitterest dispute in typographic history, over the rights to the Dove Press type. But even then the pronouncements and self-justifications of his former partner Thomas Cobden-Sanderson dominated the affair. Simon set out to build a picture of Walker, his work and his world, a man who professionally and socially seemed to ‘know everyone’; re-examining what had hitherto been written about him, and researching archive material, principally at the Harry Ransom Center in Texas, from Walker’s house itself, made accessible in 2017 at the V&A, and of course at St Bride Library. 

Simon Loxley is a graphic designer and writer, and the author of Type is Beautiful: The Story of Fifty Remarkable Fonts (Bodleian Library, 2016), Printer’s Devil: The Life and Work of Frederic Warde (David Godine, 2013), and Type: The Secret History of Letters (I.B. Tauris, 2004). He designed the Emery Walker’s House logo, and designed and edited Ultrabold, the journal of St Bride Library (2006–16). The result of his recent research, Emery Walker: Arts, Crafts and a World in Motion, is published by Oak Knoll in Autumn 2019.

This lecture will be held in the intimate setting of our Passmore Edwards Room and you will have the opportunity to see some of the physical items from our collection relating to Emery Walker that formed part of his research. Tickets are limited to 30 places.

Price includes one free drink and nibbles