Catalogue of the papers of Anna Hornby, 1566, 1952-79

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

C. Parker


Department of Special Collections
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Papers of Anna Hornby, 1566, 1952-79

Letters and writings of Alfred John Fairbank, relating to calligraphy, 1952-79, and pages of handwriting manuals, 1566

Shelfmarks: MSS. Eng. c. 5890, e. 3402

Extent: 2 shelfmarks

Biographical History

Anna Hornby (1914-1996) was Honorary Secretary of the Society for Italic Handwriting, from its foundation in 1952, until 1962. For further information see her obituary in The Scribe no. 66 (Spring 1996). Through her interest in calligraphy and her association with the Society, she became acquainted with Alfred John Fairbank. He was a founding member of the Society of Scribes and Illuminators in 1921, and was also involved in the foundation of the Society for Italic Handwriting in 1952. For further information see Dictionary of National Biography.

Scope and Content

The collection contains letters from Alfred John Fairbank to Anna Hornby, 1952-79; articles written by Fairbank on calligraphy, 1953-74; samples of his handwriting; translations by Anna Hornby of two Italian handwriting manuals, 1953, and pages from the original works, 1566.

Separated Material

Incomplete copy of Giovanni Battista Palatino, Compendio del gran volume de l'arte del bene et leggiadramente scrivere tuttele sorti di lettere et caratteri, con le lor regole misure et essempi (Rome, 1566) is Vet. F1 d. 73. A copy of John Howard Benson, The First Writing Book [:] an English translation and facsimile text of Arrighi's Operina, the first manual of the Chancery hand, with introduction and notes by John Howard Benson (New Haven, 1954) is Rec. e. 249.


Given by Anna Hornby, 1995.

Preferred Form of Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Library [followed by shelfmark and folio or page reference, e.g. MS. Eng. c. 5890, fols. 1-2].

Personal names (NCA Rules)

Fairbank | Alfred John | 1895-1982 | calligrapher
Hornby | Anna | 1914-1996 | calligrapher

Corporate names (NCA Rules)

Society for Italic Handwriting

Subjects (LCSH)

Writing, Italic

Descriptive List

Letters mainly from Alfred John Fairbank, copies of articles he wrote, pages from Italian writing manuals and notes by Anna Hornby, 1566, 1952-79
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. c. 5890
Extent: 215 leaves

Scope and Content:


  • (fols. 5-105) letters from A.J. Fairbank relating to the Society for Italic Handwriting, and books, exhibitions and courses he was working on to promote italic handwriting, 1952-79
  • (fols. 106-17) samples of Fairbank's handwriting
  • (fols. 118-40) A.J. Fairbank, 'Genesius de la Barrera', printed in the Society for Italic Handwriting Journal no. 63 (Summer 1970)
  • (fol. 141) Alfred Fairbank, A basis for a 40- (or 42-) letter alphabet with a related specimen attached (1953)
  • (fols. 144-54) offprint of Alfred Fairbank, 'Die Cancellaresca in Handschrift und Drucktype', from Imprimatur (1956-7)
  • (fols. 155-66) Alfred Fairbank, How to Teach the Italic Hand Through the Beacon Writing Books (London, 1963)
  • (fols. 168-73) offprint of Alfred Fairbank, 'Arrighi and Papal Briefs', from The Book Collector (Autumn 1970)
  • (fols. 174-8) offprint of Alfred Fairbank, 'Another Arrighi Manuscript', from The Book Collector (Autumn 1971)
  • (fols. 179-85) offprint of Alfred Fairbank, 'Another Arrighi Manuscript Discovered', from The Book Collector (Winter 1974)
  • (fols. 186-8) page from Palatino writing manual of 1566, with accompanying letter from A.J. Fairbank
  • (fols. 189-203) pages from an Amphiareo writing manual of 1566
  • (fols. 204-7) pages from a late Tagliente writing manual
  • (fols. 208-15) letters from Herman Cohen and John Howard Benson, 1955-6

Translation of Ludovico degli Arrighi, La Operina (1522) and part of his Il Modo de Temporare (1523) by Anna Hornby, written by her in italic, 1953
Shelfmark: MS. Eng. e. 3402
Extent: x + 48 pages
Binding: Spiral bound notebook with stiffened covers

Transformation from XML to HTML by Lawrence Mielniczuk
25 May 2011