Dwiggins, William Addison

Dwiggins, William Addison,

1880–1956, American type designer, calligrapher, and book designer, b. Martinsville, Ohio. He attained prominence as an illustrator and commercial artist, and he brought to the designing of type and books some of the boldness that he displayed in his advertising work. His typefaces—Electra and Caledonia are most widely used—were specifically designed for linotype composition and have the clean spareness of the motor age. His scathing attack on contemporary book designers in An Investigation into the Physical Properties of Books (1919) led to his working with the publisher Alfred A. Knopf. A series of finely conceived and executed trade books followed and did much to increase public interest in book format. Dwiggins was perhaps more responsible than any other designer for the marked improvement in book design in the 1920s and 1930s. He gained recognition as a calligrapher and wrote much on the graphic arts, notably essays collected in MSS by WAD (1949), and his Layout in Advertising (1928; rev. ed. 1949) remains standard.
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Dwiggins, William Addison

(1880–1956) book designer; born in Martinsville, Ohio. An associate of Frederic Goudy, he bought his own press in 1910 and produced a seriocomic magazine, The Fabulist (1915–21). He coauthored an influential pamphlet decrying American books as poorly made; as a designer, especially for Alfred A. Knopf, he produced some of the finest books of his time. His analysis of typefaces in Layout in Advertising (1928) was a classic. From 1929 on he designed many distinctive typefaces for the Mergenthaler Linotype Company.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.