Elizabeth Friedlander


Designer of textiles, papers, type, book covers. Jewish. Most of her career spent in England. Born Elisabeth Betty Friedländer, 10 October 1903, Berlin-Charlottenburg, to cultured and affluent German Jewish parents. Studied art at the Berlin Academy, specialising in typography and calligraphy, under Emil Rudolf Weiss. She then worked for the Jewish publishing house of Ullstein Verlag, Berlin, designing headings for its fashion journal Die Dame. 1927-8: invited to design a typeface for Bauer Typefoundry; it was completed in 1938. Normal practice would have named the typeface by the designer’s surname, but ‘Friedländer’ was considered too Jewish: it was issued as ‘Elisabeth’ (‘Elizabeth’ for the English-speaking market; first used by the Officina Serpentis). (However, specimen settings appeared in trade journals such as Archiv für Buchgewerbe from December 1936. The Bauer Typefoundry, New York, used ‘Elizabeth’ for its 1939 Bauer Almanac, crediting Elizabeth Friedlander.) October 1936: because of the Nazi regulations she moved to Milan and worked for the publisher Mondadori (1936-8) and for Editoriale Domus (from February 1937). She also designed bookjackets and publicity. February 1939: unsuccessful in her attempts to emigrate to the USA, she arrived in London with a Domestic Service permit (obtained through the Society of Friends Emergency Committee) which allowed her to work as a maid. With the help of Francis Meynell she secured work at the advertising agency Mather & Crowther, later also working in ‘black propaganda’ for the Political Intelligence Department, Central Office of Information. Now ‘Elizabeth Friedlander’ she decided to remain in Britain at the war’s end. She worked for publishers, and designed over 20 patterned papers for the Curwen Press. June 1948: commissioned by Jan Tschichold, the new art director at Penguin Books, to do some title lettering and, most significantly, to design patterned papers for covers of the series Penguin Music Scores (issued 1949-61; EF’s covers: early 1950s) and Penguin Poets. During the following decade she drew roundels for the Penguin Classics series (her later Penguin work was commissioned by Hans Schmoller), worked for the Folio Society, and lettered presentation scrolls and rolls of honour. From 1951: calligrapher to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, lettering Rolls of Honour. Her ornamental borders were issued by Linotype (1952) and Monotype (‘The Friedlander borders’, 1958). 1961: moved to Kinsale, Ireland, from where she continued to design bookplates, bookjackets, catalogues, and calligraphic maps, as well as lettering Irish proverbs on parchment. She died there in 1984.

Writings about

  • Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon, Munich/Leipzig: K.G. Saur Verlag, 1990-., 2005.
  • Elisabeth-Antiqua and Elisabeth-Kursiv shown in K.F. Bauer’s Werden und Wachsen einer Deutschen Schriftgiesserei, Frankfurt a.M.: Bauer, 1937, p. 54
  • ‘Elizabeth’, Typography 6, Summer 1938, p. 40
  • David McKitterick, A New Specimen Book of Curwen Pattern Papers, Andoversford: Whittington, 1987
  • Bryan Platt and others, ‘Classic design. The Penguin Classics’ Henley-on-Thames: Penguin Collectors’ Society ( Miscellany 9 ), June 1994, pp. 22-3, 34, 51 (roundels)
  • Tanya Schmoller, ‘Roundel trouble’ (Penguin Classics), Matrix 14, Winter 1994, Risbury, Herefordshire: Whittington, pp. 167-77, plus insets
  • Pauline Paucker, New Borders, The Working Life of Elizabeth Friedlander, Oldham: Graham Moss at Incline Press, 1998
  • P. Paucker, ‘Elizabeth Friedlander’, (London) Printing Historical Society Bulletin, 47, Summer 1999
  • P. Paucker, ‘New Borders: the Working Life of Elizabeth Friedlander’, Matrix, 2000, pp. 181-7
  • Patrick Fox, review of P. Paucker’s New Borders, in Parenthesis, April 2000, no. 4, pp. 52, 54
  • P. Paucker, ‘Die Bauersche Giesserei und die Elisabeth-Schrift, [and] Georg Hartmann/Elizabeth Friedlander: Ein Briefwechsel’, Philobiblon, Dec. 2000, pp. 271-91 (EF’s type designs)
  • P. Paucker, ‘Elizabeth Friedlander: The art of understatement’, Imprimatur, Band XVII, 2002, pp. 196-218
  • P. Paucker, ‘Elizabeth Friedlander: Die Kunst der Intertreibung’, DEG Jahrbuch, Frankfurt a.M.: Deutsche Exlibris-Gesellschaft, pp. 103-20 (includes photo of EF, 1956)
  • typeface Elisabeth shown, Zeitschrift für Bücherfreunde , 1933, between pp. 134/5
  • Archiv für Buchgewerbe und Gebrauchsgraphik, Leipzig: Deutsche Buchgewerbeverein., 1937, p. 217 (Elisabeth)
  • Ernst Fischer and others, Buchgestaltung im Exil 1933-1950. Eine Ausstellung des Deutschen Exilarchivs 1933-1945 Der Deutschen Bibliothek. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2003. Very comprehensive. , 2003, p. 91, and biog. pp. 159-60
  • work shown in Heinrich Wieynck, ‘Schreibkunst’, Gebrauchsgraphik (International Advertising Art), Berlin: Phönix Illustrationsdruck und Verlag GmbH (later: ‘Gebrauchsgraphik’ Druck und Verlag GmbH), 1933-71. Published from Munich from 1950., 1925, v. 1, pp. 49-76 Jan Tschichold, ‘My reform of Penguin Books’ (originally ‘Mein Reform der Penguin Books’, Typographische (or Typografische) Monatsblätter (journal), St Gallen: 1952-93, Zurich: 1994-present., no. 6, 1950), pp. 144-7 (includes Penguin music score cover)


  • Ben Uri Gallery, London, 1955
  • University College Cork, 1988.


  • Boole Library, University College, Cork.