The Typographic Hub


Here you can read all the latest news from the Baskerville Society


On the radio

Tune into the Carl Chinn Show on BBC WM [95.6FM] at 1200-noon on Sunday 17 February and you will catch Dr Caroline Archer and Dr Malcolm Dick talking about the work of the Baskerville Society. Alternatively, you can catch up with the show on iPlayer.


Hic Jacet, or 'The corpse in the crescent'

Whilst there is a good body of poetry and prose, both fact and fiction that has been written about the craft of printing, there is however, only one radio play. Hic Jacet, or The Corpse in the Crescent is a macabre story about the death and post-mortem antics of John Baskerville! Written by Neville Brendon Watts it was first broadcast by the Midland’s Home Service of the BBC on 29 December 1947. As far as we know, it has only been performed once and no recording of the original broadcast is available. However, copies of the script have been discovered both in the Archives at Birmingham Reference Library and the Norman Painting Archives at the University of Birmingham. Painting was the Reader in the original broadcast and went on to play Phil Archer in the BBC Radio 4 soap opera: a role he played for more than 50 years. Other members of the original cast of Hic Jacet also went on to play long running characters in the Archers including Wortley Allen [Amos], Chris Gittins [Walter Gabriel] and Denis Folwell  [Jack Archer]. A copy of Paintings own script of the play - heavily annotated and adorned with doodles - can be seen at the University of Birmingham.


John Baskerville and the beauty of letters 

A new film outlining Baskerville’s importance as a typographer, printer and industrialist can be seen on Entitled ‘Industry and Genius: John Baskerville and the beauty of letters’, the film has been produced as part of the new History West Midlands Project which is publishing a magazine and producing a website on the history of the west midlands region. The film coincides with the launch of the first edition of the magazine early in 2013 on the ‘West Midlands Enlightenment’, which will contain an article by Caroline Archer on Baskerville. The film contains footage of locations in Birmingham, images of Baskerville’s products and interviews with Caroline Archer, Malcolm Dick and Martin Killeen, Rare Books Librarian at the University of Birmingham.  It is possible to sign up for free issues of the magazine on the website.



Cakes and Ale

More than eighty people attended the recent event to mark the launch of the Baskerville Society. The evening included lectures by Dr Malcolm Dick from The Centre for West Midlands History, School of History and Cultures at the University of Birmingham and Dr Caroline Archer from The Typographic Hub, Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, Birmingham City University.

Guests watched a wonderful performance of Hic Jacet [see below] a macabre story by Neville Brandon Watts. First broadcast in 1947 on the Midland Home Service of the BBC, this was only the second performance of play in 55 years. Directed by Lise Olson the work was performed by MA Acting students (with BA support) at the Birmingham School of Acting, with a special guest appearance by David Vann.

In addition, gests were treated to an evening of ‘Cakes and Ale’, which included samples of Baskerville Bitter, generously supplied by Birmingham’s micro-brewery, Two Towers, and a liberal supply of bespoke ‘Baskerville Cakes’ provided by Connie’s Cake Emporium. 

The evening was a great success, but was nearly abandoned due to an electricity outage, which closed most of the University of Birmingham campus forcing the event to relocate. However, the evening was saved with assistance from the staff of the Main Library who, in the face of adversity, welcomed the Society into their building. Our thanks go to all those who helped make this event a success.


John Baskerville: an animated film 

Enjoy the work of students of the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, in this short animation on the life and work of John Baskerville. Copies of the film are available on request from the Society for £4 including post and packagin [UK-ony]. Please email for more information. You can see the film on YouTube.