Some time ago we made the decision to print Holloway using a Monotype caster, which essentially means that we use molten lead and a casting machine to make fresh lead type to print the book.
The font we chose is Plantin, a typeface named after the printer Christophe Plantin. It was first cut in 1913 for the Monotype Corporation, and is based on a face cut in the 16th century by Robert Granjon. Plantin is one of the typefaces that influenced the creation of Times Roman in the 1930s.
The type is made by using a huge keyboard to punch holes in a paper tape about five inches high; the roll of tape looks like something that goes in a player-piano. The text is input ‘blind’; that is, the person doing it has only their memory to tell them where they are in the text and whether or not they’ve made any mistakes. All they have to show for hours of punching keys is a roll of white paper, speckled with small rectangular holes. The guidance for this task is provided by this slowly rotating drum:
…as well as arcane information such as this:
The roll of paper looks like this. In no way does this resemble a book, or text, or a typeface, or, in fact, anything much at all. But it’s where the book begins, as it contains all the information that will be needed to cast the type, which is done on an adjacent machine which uses brass dies to impress the typeforms on the molten lead. And that is something I will leave until the next time I can get round to adding to this dubious and ignorant account of our slow and laborious progress towards the publication of Holloway.
Typeset and letterpress printed in Oxford by Richard Lawrence. 48pp in Royal Octavo format (234 x 156mm). Five full-page line illustrations by Stanley Donwood. Typeset in 12pt Monotype Plantin Light. Printed on 115gsm Somerset Book Wove paper. 277 copies sewn and limp bound; £27.70. 27 specially bound copies in a slipcase; price on application.
Expressions of interest to: Richard Lawrence 50 Hurst Street Oxford OX4 1 HD email@example.com
Holloway. Hollowy. Holewaye. Holeway. Holway. Holwy. Hol weg.
I first met with Robert Macfarlane several years ago at Emmanuel College, Cambridge. Snow crunched underfoot and flecked us as we crossed the quad. A sparrowhawk flew over with its dark dove silhouette. The lido was frozen over - thick enough to support a duck - and the oriental plane tree stood out bronze in the stalling light. It was December, I remember, and the notes I have record that, amongst other things, we looked at a book of fires, pyres and stoves made by sculptor David Nash - a gift from Roger Deakin.
As I was leaving, having agreed to meet again, I paused and said, “You know the sunken road in Dorset which you explored with Roger? I spoke to Stanley Donwood about it a while back and it haunts him. I think he’d like to seek it out. I think he might like to make a book.” And then I left in the snow for my inevitably cancelled train.
I first spoke to Stanley about the holloway in …. in March 2009. I first met with Robert and mooted something or other about a collaboration in Cambridge (in the snow) in December 2009. We (eventually) got to the holloway in September 2011.
The book Holloway was drawn and written between September 2011 and March 2012. Richard Lawrence printed it in his Oxford workshop between April and May, 2012