What’s on my calligraphy bookshelf?

Books are a great way to inspire your calligraphy practice.

Whether you’re borrowing from a library, bagging a charity shop bargain or buying something hot-off-the-press, there’s plenty of ways to add to your collection.

My two most recent purchases were picked up from Blackwell’s Art and Poster Shop in Oxford.

They had such a brilliant display of calligraphy books, I simply had to reward them for their efforts!

The calligraphy display at Blackwell’s Art and Poster Shop in Oxford

My most recent purchases

One of the books was Calligraphy Techniques, by Mary Noble, whose work I admired just last month at the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society (CLAS) 25th anniversary exhibition in Sunderland.

It features classic alphabets and more than 40 projects – and I can’t wait to get stuck in!

The second was Creative Calligraphy, by Judy Broad, who moves in some of the same social media circles as me and is very generous with her advice.

It’s all about pointed pen calligraphy, exploring the fundamentals before setting you of on 20 inspiring projects. I particularly like the use of tattoo paper to write on an eggshell!

Modern Calligraphy books

Judy’s is one of several ‘modern calligraphy’ books that sit on my shelf.

I’m a traditional girl at heart, but I love writing copperplate script with a pointed pen and would love to develop a more free-flowing style of my own.

The first such book I bought was Modern Calligraphy, by Molly Suber Thorpe, founder of Plurabelle Calligraphy Studio, on the recommendation of Joyce Lee at Artsynibs.

I then added Modern Calligraphy Workshop, by Imogen Owen, which she signed for me during an author event at Forum Books in Corbridge.

My signed copy of Modern Calligraphy Workshop, by Imogen Owen

These books tend to join me on my copperplate workshops, along with Italic and Copperplate Calligraphy: The Basics and Beyond, by Eleanor Winters.

Similarly, brush lettering is something I find intriguing and I’d like to explore it more.

Brush Pen Lettering, by Grace Song, and By Hand, by Nicole Miyuki Santo, are long overdue a spell off the shelf, I think!

Traditional Calligraphy books

My traditional calligraphy books include Susan Hufton’s Step-by-Step Calligraphy, which I picked up from Barter Books in Alnwick.

The Calligrapher’s Project Book, by Susanne Haines, was gifted to me and features an inspiring gallery of calligraphic works before you get to the reference section!

I also have the books that started my collection, inherited from the Northumbrian Scribes when I attended classes taught by its chairman, Susan Moor.

They are Tom Goudie’s Basic Calligraphic Hands; Anne Trudgill’s Traditional Penmanship; Making Calligraphy Work for You: An Osmiroid Book of Ideas by Tom Barnard and Christopher Jarman; Borders for Calligraphy, by Margaret Shepherd; 100+ Easy Calligraphy Projects by G. Roland Smith; Colour Calligraphy by David Graham and Creative Calligraphy, by Peter Halliday.

Some of these books are a little dated – a couple are older than me – but the techniques are still the same and I refer to them time and time again.

General lettering books

I also have some general lettering books on my shelf.

The Joy of Lettering, by Walter Foster, was recommended to me by Kate Watson, from Olive & Reid Studio, and I picked up The Little Book of Lettering, by Emily Gregory, in Toronto.

The latter features work from artists all over the world, be it digitally drawn or hand-lettered. I love the pencil sketch of the book cover design on the inside cover – it’s how it all starts!

Do you have a favourite calligraphy book? Share your recommendations in the comments below.


  1. Zelda Ella on September 27, 2020 at 11:31 am

    I’ve tried several instructional books on hand lettering. Pretty Simple lettering is the best by far. It is the only book that gives practice for the base strokes and also discusses posture and how to hold the pen and at what angle to the paper. It is also a lovely book to work with; nice artwork/illustrations.

  2. Zelda Ella on September 30, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    I also buy Calligrapher’s project book. Thought this book as published so long ago would be impossible to buy. Bought a hardcover edition in excellent condition. all that a beginner in calligraphy needs to start them off

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