Page 8 - April 2017
P. 8

Hart’s Rules for Compositors

             very printer, whether letterpress,   there alone, with a mind full of wonder
             litho or digital has heard of   and a heart like lead.”
       EHart’s Rules – but who was the         In due course Hart was apprenticed
       eponymous Hart? At St Bride Library   as a compositor to Mr Kinder. He was
       there is a shelf fi lled with multiple   an exceptional student, and always
       editions of ‘the most famous rule book   sought out by his colleagues when they
       in the world’, as described by Vivian   struggled with a diffi  cult piece of copy or
       Ridler, printer to the University of   a foreign word. He excelled in algebraic
       Oxford, in a letter to Hart’s daughter in   formulae, Greek, Hebrew and complex
       December 1967.                                            tabular matter—
       Coincidentally,                                           material
       the book has                                              which only
       always been                                               occasionally
       published by                                              passed
       OUP, as Hart                                              through the
       was also Printer                                          hands of most
       to the University                                         commercial
       from 1883.                                                printers. When
        Horace Hart                                              the general
       was born in                                               manager of
       Sudbury, Suff olk                                          Woodfall &
       in 1840 and at                                            Kinder retired,
       the age of 14                                             Hart replaced
       was apprenticed                                           him, even
       to the fi rm of                                            though he was
       Woodfall &                                                barely 26 years
       Kinder, where                                             old. He served
       he was engaged                                            in the post
       as a trainee                                              for 12 years,
       reading-boy                                               moving to the
       (proof-reader).                                           Ballantyne
       The printworks was in Skinner Street,   Press in 1878. After less than three years
       London, and the 14-year-old took an   he was head-hunted by William Clowes
       early train from Sudbury on his fi rst   & Sons, before becoming Printer to the
       day at work in 1854, accompanied      University of Oxford three years later in
       by his father, who was anxious to get   October 1883.
       back home. Hart senior left the young     Although Hart had an illustrious
       lad alone on Ludgate Hill to await a   career as Controller of the Printing
       representative from Woodfall’s. Horace   Department of the Oxford University
       Hart recalled in later years, “I stood   Press, he is now best remembered
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