Wynkyn de Worde Society

Wynkyn de Worde News

Reynolds Stone


Many members will be interested to learn of Humphrey Stone's new and long-awaited memoir of his father.

A fresh look at the life and work of the artist Reynolds Stone CBE RDI (1909–1979) has long been overdue. He was one of the most distinguished wood engravers of the mid-twentieth century, and in his lettering in that medium unequalled. He helped champion the renaissance in good printing and type design, and was an accomplished watercolour painter and letter cutter in stone. His legacy endures in much that remains familiar, including the coat of arms on a British passport.

Stone’s father and grandfather were both Eton classics masters, and the encouragement of his mother Laura, herself an artist, helped nurture his talent. Childhood holidays in Dorset spent painting at her side fostered an affection for its coast and unspoilt countryside. An apprenticeship with Cambridge Uni- versity Press gave way to the precarious life of the freelance artist. But Stone’s career quickly blossomed. Commissions poured in for bookplates and from publishers and private presses wanting designs and illustrations.

Stone’s love of Dorset finally bore fruit when he and his wife Janet bought a house in the Bride Valley in 1953. Janet’s gift for hospitality turned Litton Cheney’s Old Rectory into a much-loved artistic and literary haven for their many friends, whilst its ponds and wild garden provided Reynolds with the inspiration and seclusion he needed. Modest, unpretentious, the work that flowed from his engraving tools over the years that followed bore an individ- uality and style uniquely his own: including the masthead for The Times, the Royal Arms for the Order of Service for The Queen’s Coronation, Winston Churchill’s Memorial in Westminster Abbey, postage stamps, the £5 and £10 notes. And then there were the private commissions, many from admirers in the United States, as well as watercolours, two typefaces, and numerous book- plates.

Reynolds Stone is richly illustrated with Stone’s work. Many of its more than 350 engravings, drawings, watercolours and photographs have never been pub- lished before. Yet its principal delight is that its author is Reynolds’ younger son and a distinguished typographer and designer in his own right. Shot through with a son’s respect for his father’s achievements, the result has an intimacy a more formal biography would lack.

There is further information here.

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