W. A. Dwiggins

Type design on the cover of MSS by WAD

I’ve just finished a collection of stories by Roald Dahl (Someone Like You, if you care — utterly brilliant) and throughout the experience I’ve caught myself delayed numerous times by the object itself — enthralled by the meticulous typography and intricate ornamentation that adorns each chapter break. Not to mention the altogether unique cover design and spine treatment. As I rounded the last turn, I was confronted with a paragraph under the heading: PRINTER’S NOTE. What followed was a colophon of sorts that ended with the perfunctory, “The typography and binding design are by W. A. Dwiggins.”

So, who is this mysterious master of modern type and page design?

Turns out, William Addison Dwiggins, or WAD as he apparently preferred, was quite a fellow. He might be most famous for coining the term graphic designer back in 1922 in reference to himself and his work. He designed the (still popular) typefaces Electra and Caledonia and a total of 329 books for A. Knopf, Inc. The hardcover I’ve just finished bears the BORZOI imprint and will go straight on the top shelf where it belongs. Thank you, WAD.