A Research Centre for Calligraphy
Ditchling, East Sussex

Registered Charity No. 1099648


About the Foundation


Edward Johnston by his teaching and practice almost single-handedly revived the art of formal penmanship which had lain moribund for four centuries. His major work Writing and Illuminating, and Lettering, first published in 1906 and in print continuously ever since, created a new interest in calligraphy and a new school of excellent scribes. The life he breathed into this ancient craft and its continuing tradition even in today’s hi-tech world can be ascribed to his re-discovery of the influence of tools, materials and methods. His researches were carried out with the understanding of the artist-craftsman, the scientist and the philosopher and this three-fold approach resulted in a profound insight - he fully grasped the root of formal writing and saw how all the branches grew from that root.

The epoch-making sans-serif alphabet he designed for the London Underground Railways changed the face of typography in the twentieth century whilst two of the most popular types of our day ‘Perpetua’ and ‘Gill Sans’ were by his great pupil Eric Gill (1882-1940).

Johnston’s influence has been world-wide. As early as 1910 his pupil Anna Simons translated Writing and Illuminating, and Lettering into German and a tremendous interest was sparked off in that country. So much so that Sir William Rothenstein remarked on a visit to art schools on the continent, ‘in Germany in particular the name of Edward Johnston was known and honoured above that of any artist’.

The other great revival has been in the United States particularly since the 1970s where there has been a veritable explosion of interest both on a professional and amateur level. The annual lettering conferences held in important centres throughout the country are testimony to this rebirth. But, lest we forget Johnston’s pioneering work, we ought perhaps to remind ourselves of what Hermann Zapf has said recently of him,

“Nobody had such a lasting effect on the revival of contemporary writing as Edward Johnston. He paved the way for all lettering artists of the twentieth century and ultimately they owe their success to him"

The Edward Johnston Foundation is a registered arts charity dedicated to the promotion of a public awareness of calligraphy, not only as an art form in its own right but also as the seed and reference point for many other lettering applications including modern typeface design. These aims are backed with four objectives:

  • 1) to establish an archive and library which will support teaching and research and provide accessible data for use by all
  • 2) to build a collection of contemporary work which is international in scope
  • 3) to develop a full educational programme in calligraphy and allied subjects
  • 4) to initiate research into the use of new electronic media


The Foundation is based at Studio 4, Turner Dumbrell Workshops, Ditchling, East Sussex, the birthplace of the twentieth-century calligraphic renaissance in Britain. The collection of contemporary work comprises some 10,000 individual items with an acquisitions policy for rapid expansion to represent many related disciplines. The library currently stands at over 2000 volumes.

In 1999, the Foundation, in association with Ditchling Museum, was awarded Arts Council funding worth 102,000 for a three-year series of exhibitions and events under the title Lettering Today and Tomorrow.




We welcome donations, however large or small, to assist us in achieving our charitable aims. All work for the Foundation is provided on a voluntary basis.


I enclose a donation of________to the Edward Johnston Foundation to be used for the purposes outlined. Cheques should be made payable to The Edward Johnston Foundation and sent to the E J F, 8 Cottage Homes, Common Lane, Ditchling, Hassocks, West Sussex BN6 8TW (Tel/Fax 01273 844505)



To make a donation on-line please go to this page




1. The crossroads

2. Village Green and Church