Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Single-edition one-color book. Design and typesetting by H. Set in Baskerville Original by František Štorm.

At the peak of COVID-19 social distancing I was buying more books than usual, trying to throw a little extra business to beloved booksellers such as Strand, Kitchen Arts & Letters and Powell’s, and I wanted to treat myself to a hefty hardback copy of my old favourite, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. When I opened the book, though, I was crestfallen to find typesetting so poor that I had to work to keep my attention on the story, so I set out to make a copy that I could enjoy as much as I had the original decades ago.

A major part of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell’s charm as a work of fiction and its potency as a typesetting exercise is its complex format. The novel features excerpts of correspondence and poetry, 186 footnotes of varying lengths and a few magic-induced interruptions – all flavoured with a light dusting of slightly archaic spellings. The resulting design challenges were most edifying, and I am pleased with the solutions both visible and under-the-hood that they forced me to devise.