Stanley Morison

Stanley Morison was a British typographer who designed and revived many typefaces, Times New Roman being the most famous one of them. During his life, Morison worked for Monotype Corporation, The Times newspaper and Cambridge University Press, and served as the editor of a typographic journal called The Fleuron. He was the typographic advisor at the Monotype Corporation, responsible for the creative growth of its type library from 1920 until after the Second World War, and was also the typographic advisor at the Times, and also the editor of The Times Literary Supplement from 1929 to 1960. Moreover, Morison wrote many books about typography.

Stanley Morison was born in Wanstead, Essex, England in 1889. He left school at the age of 14, and started work in an office. In 1913, he became an editorial assistant in Imprint magazine. Morison was imprisoned for a while during the First World War because he was a “conscientious objector”, but he later became a design supervisor at Pelican Press in 1918. In 1922 he founded the Fleuron Society dedicated to typographical matters, then from 1923 to 1925 he was a staff editor and writer for the Penrose Annual graphics arts journal. He then became the editor of the Fleuron journal from 1925 to 1930. The quality of the Fleuron’s artwork and printing was considered exceptional at the time.

From 1923 to 1967, Morison was typographic consultant for the Monotype Corporation, a company for font licensing and design. There he researched and adapted several historic typefaces of the 1920s and 1930s, and suggested to Monotype that they remake seven typefaces from the past. He also ordered certain fonts to be recut for use in machine printing, resulting in the resurgence of Bodoni, Garamond, Fournier, Baskerville, Poliphilus, and Bembo. The company’s range of typefaces was expanded and dozens of fonts were produced, many based on classic ones and some entirely new.

After Monotype, Stanley Morison worked at The Times newspaper (London) as a typographical consultant from 1929 to 1960. In 1931, “after having publicly criticized the paper for the poor quality of its printing, he was commissioned by the newspaper to produce a new easy to read typeface for the publication”. As a result, Morison developed the Times New Roman typeface along with graphic artist Victor Lardent. It was first used by the newspaper in 1932, and published by Monotype in 1933.

Stanley Morison also edited the history of the Times from 1935 to 1952 and was editor of the Times Literary Supplement between 1945 and 1948. He was a member of the editorial board of Encyclopedia Britannica from 1961 until his death in 1967.

Stanley Morison’s most famous typeface was the Times New Roman. At the time he was typographical consultant at the Times newspaper, the newspaper needed a “face type whose strength of line, firmness of contour, and economy of space fulfilled its specific editorial needs”, not just a general type like it had. So after Morison had written an article “criticizing The Times for being badly printed and typographically behind the times”, he was asked to produce a new easy to read typeface. Morison used an older typeface, Plantin, as the basis for his design, making “revisions for legibility and economy of space”, and graphic artist Victor Lardent drew the letters. The new typeface was called Times New Roman, and was first introduced in 1932. The new typeface had sharper serifs and was more condensed than the previous types, giving it more contrast. The type design was released for commercial sale a year later.The new typeface was originally made for the printing of newspapers with stereotype-plates. It later became the leading type for books, and was later digitized and adopted for computer use and word processing software.

Several versions for the Times typefaces have been created, “Times” being the universal one. Times Ten is a version designed for smaller text, sized 12 point and below. Its characters are wider and the hairlines are a little stronger in order to be more legible. Times Eighteen is the “headline version”, made for point sizes of 18 and larger. Its characters are more condensed and the hairlines are finer. And finally, Times Europa is a re-design by Walter Tracy in 1972, used sturdier characters and open counterspaces to maintain readability in “rougher printing conditions”.


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