Just My Type is not just a font book, but a book of stories. About how Helvetica and Comic Sans took over the world. About why Barack Obama opted for Gotham, while Amy Winehouse found her soul in 30s Art Deco. About the great originators of type, from Baskerville to Zapf, or people like Neville Brody who threw out the rulebook, or Margaret Calvert, who invented the motorway signs that are used from Watford Gap to Abu Dhabi. About the pivotal moment when fonts left the world of Letraset and were loaded onto computers ... and typefaces became something we realised we all have an opinion about.As the Sunday Times review put it, the book is'a kind ofEats, Shoots and Leaves for letters, revealing the extent to which fonts are not only shaped by but also define the world in which we live.'
Every letter contains a miniature story, and here are some of the greatest. From Oscar Wilde's unconventional method of using the mail to cycling enthusiast Reginald Bray's quest to post himself, Simon Garfield uncovers a host of stories that capture the enchantment of this irreplaceable art (with a supporting cast including Pliny the Younger, Ted Hughes, Virginia Woolf, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, David Foster Wallace and the Little Red-Haired Girl). There is also a brief history of the letter-writing guide, with instructions on when and when not to send fish as a wedding gift. And as these accounts unfold, so does the tale of a compelling wartime correspondence that shows how the simplest of letters can change the course of a life.
Not so long ago we timed our lives by the movement of the sun. These days our time arrives atomically and insistently, and our lives are propelled by the notion that we will never have enough of the one thing we crave the most. How have we come to be dominated by something so arbitrary? The compelling stories in this book explore our obsessions with time. An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. A moment of war is frozen forever. The timetable arrives by steam train. A woman designs a ten-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister becomes stuck in the same four minutes forever. A British watchmaker competes with mighty Switzerland. And a prince attempts to stop time in its tracks. Timekeepers is a vivid exploration of the ways we have perceived, contained and saved time over the last 250 years, narrated in the highly inventive and entertaining style that bestselling author Simon Garfield is fast making his own. As managing time becomes the greatest challenge we face in our lives, this multi-layered history helps us tackle it in a sparkling new light.
From the author of Mauve, an obsessively readable memoir that brings the mania for stamp collecting to life From the Penny Red to the Blue Mauritius, generations of collectors have been drawn to the mystique of rare stamps.Once a widespread pastime of schoolboys, philately has increasingly become the province of older men obsessed with the shrewd investment, the once-in-a-lifetime find, the one elusive beauty that will complete a collection and satisfy an unquenchable thirst.As a boy, Simon Garfield collected errors--rare pigment misprints that create ghostly absences in certain stamps.When this passion reignited in his mid-forties, it consumed him. In the span of a couple of years he amassed a collection of errors worth upwards of forty thousand pounds, pursuing not only this secret passion, but a romantic one as his marriage disintegrated.In this unique memoir, Simon Garfield twines the story of his philatelic obsession with an honest and engrossing exploration of the rarities and absences that both limit and define us.The end result is a thoughtful, funny, and enticing meditation on the impulse to possess.
1856. Eighteen-year-old chemistry student William Perkin's experiment has gone horribly wrong. But the deep brown sludge his botched project has produced has an unexpected power: the power to dye everything it touches a brilliant purple. Perkin has discovered mauve, the world's first synthetic dye, bridging a gap between pure chemistry and industry which will change the world forever.
From the fetching ribbons soon tying back the hair on every fashionable head in London, to the laboratories in which scientists first scrutinized the human chromosome under the microscope, leading all the way to the development of modern vaccines against cancer and malaria, Simon Garfield's landmark work swirls together science and social history to tell the story of how one colour became a sensation.
This is a book about Kendo Nagasaki, Mick McManus, Les Kellett, Klondyke Kate and Dr Death - men and women who used to fight each other every night for pride and money.Margaret Thatcher once wrote adoringly to Big Daddy, and Frank Sinatra told Giant Haystacks that British wrestlers were the best entertainers in the world. The Duke of Edinburgh attended the live shows, expressing a preference for Johnny Kwango, who specialized in head-butts. Millions would watch this curious pursuit on television every Saturday afternoon. Many said it was a fake, yet many more didn't seem to mind.But then Big Daddy had a stroke, the commentator started making sexploitation films and a plumber from Wolverhampton made an unexpected housecall on Kendo Nagasaki. They took it off the television shortly after wrestlers started dying during the bouts. These days, those who are left like to talk.'Brilliant. Read The Wrestling. If you don't enjoy it I'll pull Giant Haystack's beard.' Independent'Masterful, funny . . . Packed with English eccentricity by the bucket-load, Garfield has fashioned a brilliant, barmy book from the most unpromising raw material.' FHM
Mauve is the beguiling story of a man who invented a colour, and in the process transformed the world around him. Before 1856, artificial colour was derived with difficulty and at enormous expense from animals, minerals or plants. But in 1856 a chemist called William Perkin found a way of making colour from coal.Perkin found mauve by chance, at the age of 18, working on a treatment for malaria. Instead of artificial quinine he produced a dark oily sludge that, much to his surprise, turned silk a beautiful light purple. The colour was unique. It not only stormed the fashion houses of Paris and London, it earned Perkin a fortune and generated huge industries in the new science of applied chemistry. Perkin's astonishing discovery, engagingly told in Mauve, had fundamental effects on the development of explosives, perfume, photography and modern medicine - effects that colour everything we see today.
Tells the story of our remarkable journey through the mail. From Roman wood chips discovered near Hadrian's Wall to the wonders and terrors of email, this book explores how we have written to each other over the centuries and what our letters reveal about our lives.
In September 1943, a twenty-nine-year-old postal clerk from North London named Chris Barker found a spare hour to write to a work colleague named Bessie Moore. His letter was innocent enough, but Bessie's response was unexpectedly enthusiastic. By their third exchange, it was clear to both of them they had ignited a passion that would not easily be extinguished. Within a few months, the couple had agreed to marry.
But there were complications, such as not actually seeing each other. Barker was serving as a signalman in North Africa during the war, and their passionate romance through the mail would have to survive three years of unusual obstacles, including ruined cities, enemy capture, disdain from friends and the army censor. The couple exchanged more than 500 letters, and this book distils the most alluring, compelling and heartwarming.
It's all here, as if in a movie: bombs, lust, comical misunderstandings and deep yearning - all wrapped up in the sort of deft and elegant language that the great poets would struggle to emulate. And above all it's a remarkable and unique example of the power of letters to transform ordinary lives.
Timeless, funny and utterly absorbing' HILARY MANTEL
In April 1925 at the age of fifteen, Jean Lucey Pratt started a journal that she kept until just a few days before her death in 1986, producing over a million words in 45 exercise books. What emerges is a portrait of a truly unique, spirited woman and writer. Never before has an account so fully, so honestly and so vividly captured a single woman's journey through the twentieth century.