Creating Woolf’s handwriting

For A Room of Our Own the editorial group was keen to include some pieces of Woolf’s handwriting for section titles so Woolf’s handwriting had to be replicated in some way to allow for the creation of new words. The only solution was for Katy to research Woolf’s letters, drawing a letter-bank of each character. This proved tricky because Woolf did not always form her letters in the same way – there is more than one formation of ‘e’, for example, in her writing. Katy managed to produce the most consistent letter-forms which she could use as the digital base and, from there, she could create each word, letter by letter, using the shade of ink that Woolf favoured.

Letter bank
The letter bank showing the formation of each letter of the alphabet based on Woolf’s letter formation
Chapter titles handwritten using the letter bank above

We now have what looks to be an identical rendering of Woolf’s own script (with the added advantage of legibility). Katy comments on the value of our meetings and conversations:

The [student] editors have brought fresh ideas to the design because they see each of my concepts with a fresh set of eyes. Whereas I tend to look very deeply into the details of each page, they see the book as a whole and generate exciting and innovative suggestions which I can bring to life.

The cover

By February 2020, within a month of beginning editing A Room of Our Own, the first full draft of edited pieces had been produced. Katy began type-setting using a font designed by an MA student, Kaja Slojewska, at the University of Reading (we felt that Woolf would approve of a female-authored font). By March, the book had been type-set and was ready for proof-reading.

The front and back covers of the book

At the same time, we ran into problems with our initial choice of book cover and we needed to find a replacement. A suggestion of a red poppy had been made for the cover image, this speaking to Woolf’s consistent reflections on the disaster of World War One in her writing. Zoe felt that a very gifted artist in the Department of English Literature, Georgia Courtney-Cox, may be able to help us. Georgia agreed and within a week we had our beautiful front cover.