The rich printing and publishing history of Fleet Street in London has its beginnings in the work of a printer named Wynkyn De Worde. He was the assistant of printer William Caxton (credited with introducing the first printing press to England in 1479) and was the first printer to set up in the now legendary street. Today, his name lives on through The Wynkyn De Worde society, which meets at regular intervals throughout the year in London – at these events, some of the world's preeminent designers, typographers, printers and purveyors of paper congregate to talk, share knowledge about their professions and hatch plans. The society was formed in 1957 and as part of the celebrations to mark its sixtieth year, has commissioned a new typeface in honour of its namesake. Society member Becky Chilcott, type designer Jeremy Tankard and graphic designer Alistair Hall gave us the inside story on the making of De Worde.
Why did the Wynkyn De Worde Society want to make a typeface to celebrate its 60th anniversary?
Becky Chilcott: Every time the Society reaches a major milestone, we plan a year of events and outings to celebrate. These culminate in a special anniversary dinner held at Stationers' Hall but we also like to create something more lasting than the hazy memories of a jolly night to mark the occasion. For example, in 2007 we commissioned a plaque in honour of Wynkyn de Worde which was erected in St Brides church.
A committee was set up to help the 2017 Chairman, Margaret Willes, plan these events and at one of our meetings (after a few glasses of wine) the idea for the typeface sprang to life. We couldn't believe that one hadn't been designed in de Worde's honour before, considering how many members of our Society are eminent type designers, and felt that it was the perfect thing to do this time round.
The reasons for creating the typeface were two-fold. Firstly, it would help create a strong visual identity for the year. Secondly, we thought that it could potentially be sold to Members to help raise funds for our Charitable Trust (which sponsors students to attend lectures, conferences and an apprenticeship every year). Of course, only if its designer would be happy to do so!