The Typographic Hub

The Beauty of letters: text, type and communication in the eighteenth century

14th March 2015

The Baskerville Society is pleased to announce its second two-day conference

The University of Birmingham 14-15 March 2015

In his preface to Paradise Lost (1758), John Baskerville described himself as ‘an admirer of the beauty of letters’. This conference takes his phrase as a starting point to explore the production, distribution, consumption and reception, not only of letters, but also words, texts and images during the long eighteenth century (c. 1688-1820). This conference will consider how writing, printing, performance and portrayal contributed to the creation of cultural identity and taste, assisted the spread of knowledge and contributed to political, economic, social and cultural change in Britain and the wider world.  


Lynda Mugglestone, Jennny Uglow, Susan Whyman


 Peter Allen, independent scholar, The publishing calamities of Samuel Galton Junior

Francesco Ascoli, Catholic University in Milan and Brescia, When handwriting meets beauty: how calligraphy influenced handwritten communication in ordinary people in the (long) eighteenth century

Nicolas Barker, independent scholar, Joseph Champion and the Universal Penman 

Natalia Belyakova, St Petersberg University, From Father to Son: Grand tour in the family correspondence in the Age of Enlightenment

Giles Bergel, University of Oxford, Writing-master and engraver: a troubled collaboration?

Pierre Delsaert, University of Antwerp, Branding the revival of knowledge and good taste: the creation of Leuven University Press, 1759

Jenni Dixon, independent scholar, The printed world of James Bisset

Gabor Gelleri, University of Aberystwyth, Rock, paper, scissors: the materiality of travel writing in the eighteenth century

Leonnie Hannan, University College London, Women, letter-writing and the life of the mind

Joanna Jarvis, Birmingham City University, The power of the press: an eighteenth century tale of actresses and image control

Ruth Larsen, University of Derby, ‘A white sheet is a not a proper dress for a drawing room’: an archaeology of the letters of elite women 

Persida Lazarevic, University of Pescara, The beauty of Cyrillic letters: Orfelin’s calligraphy books and their models

Jennie McDonald, Independent scholar, The comical hotch-potch

Annie Mattsson, University of Uppsala, Writing in an eighteenth-century police chamber

Jon Melton, Anglia Ruskin University, ‘A man of Letters’ - Soane’s typographic vocabulary

Elaine Mitchell, University of Birmingham, A growing obsession: plants, print and progress in the eighteenth century

Lynda Mugglestone, University of Oxford, Print and the construction of cultural identity: John Baskerville’s Vocabulary, of Pocket Dictionary 

Diana Patterson, Independent scholar, Beautiful writing: George Bickham’s American writing masters

Peter Pellizzari, Harvard University, The Life of Publius: a material biography of the Federalist

David Roberts, Birmingham City University, Tonson’s Congreve Folio

Tony Seaton, University of Bedfordshire, Printing and the mind of woman in Birmingham 1813-15: Mary Anne Schimmelpenninck, the Arch Brothers and John Baskerville

Katrin Seyler, Birmingham Museum & Art Galleries, Writing between workshop bench and tavern table: textual traces of early modern journeyman culture

Leonard Smith, University of BirminghamRepresentations of the Madhouse in Georgian England

Chiara Sironi, Palermo University, The formation of 'taste' through fictional epistles

Jenny Uglow, Independent scholar, Thomas Bewick: book design, engraving and the printers 

Timothy Underhill, University of Cambridge, ‘The most beautiful hand’: John Byrom and the aesthetics of eighteenth-century shorthand

Susan Whyman, Independent scholar, 'The pleasure of writing is inconceivable’: William Hutton of Birmingham (1723-1815) as an author 

Kevin Wisniewski, Maryland University, Compositors of types: typography and design in eighteenth-century America

Helen Williams, University of Northumberland, Tristram Shandy & the beauty of Caslon: the mid-century novel in a 'new letter'

Alex Wright, Independent Scholar, Baskerville, rabies and Joseph Dalby

Giacomo Zanibelli, University of Siena, The royal publishing industry of the ancient Italian states: an example of cultural and school industry in the eighteenth century


Conference Organisers: Professor Caroline Archer [] and Dr Malcolm Dick []