Stanley Morison: How Times New Roman has Changed Typography forever

Stanley Morison, Times New Roman, typography, free worksheet, teacher resources

As we continue to look at the importance of typography, let’s jump to the early 20th century and peek into the life of Stanley Morison. While he was responsible for the fairly large contribution to typography by creating Times New Roman, his beginnings were rather humble.

Born in Britain in 1889, Morison left school at 14 with only an elementary education. His father abandoned his family and so, as was the custom in those days, he left school to find a job to take up where his father left off.

He worked as a clerk in the London City Mission for 7 years (a ministry dedicated to helping poor and destitute, developing a wide range of charities including free schooling and ministering to working people). While there, he became interested in typography and type design after reading an article in The Times (a British newspaper) and applied to work for a printing company. His experience grew as he worked for several more printing companies and newspapers.

Stanley Morison was passionate about making publications of various kinds easier to read. He reworked many of the old Renaissance typefaces for more modern printing. These fonts include Bodoni, Garamond, Fournier, Baskerville, Poliphilus, and Bembo. 

It wasn’t until 1929 that he actually joined the staff at The Times and not until 1932 that his font Times New Roman in print. He continued to work for the times until 1960 when he retired. He continued as a consultant until his death in 1967.

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I could find little information about Stanley Morison’s personal life. There are not many pictures of him available. Apparently, he was a rather somber and austere individual. He was, however, outspoken about his opposition to World War 1. He refused to join when he was recruited and spent time in prison for it. While he did marry young in life, it was an unhappy one and he separated from his wife, Mabel Williamson, and never married again.

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Lastly, and perhaps the most interesting tidbit of all, he was offered a knighthood not once, but twice for his endeavors in typography design (one in 1953 and one in 1962). He declined both of them (who knows why!). Just goes to show you, you never know who will recognize your talent, if you work hard enough at what you are passionate about, who knows! You might just get knighted!

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(ALSO, I am hosting a student contest for my Typography Shape Unit. If you've got a student who wants to enter, check out the contest here!)