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Bernard Middleton



Bernard was born in London in 1924 and followed his father into bookbinding, training at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (London) and began his apprenticeship at the British Museum Bindery (1940-1948). After military service, he finished his apprenticeship, attended evening classes at the London School of Printing, and soon afterwards began teaching at the Royal College of Art and the London School of Printing. He served in the Royal Navy from 1943-1946 and then for two years he was manager at the famous firm of Zaehnsdorf’s. In 1953 he and his wife Dora set up in business for themselves in Soho and since 1960 Bernard lived and worked in Clapham, south London, specialising in fine book restoration.

Bernard was a founder member of the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders (later Designer Bookbinders) and was one of Britain’s foremost book craftsmen and trade historians, lecturing and teaching in Europe, the US and South America. He was a Fellow and former President of Designer Bookbinders, and Honorary Fellow and patron of the Society of Bookbinders. In 1986 he was awarded the MBE for services to bookbinding. His publications include A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique (1963, 4th ed. 1996), The Restoration of Leather Bindings (1972, 4th ed. 2004) and Recollections: a life in bookbinding (2000).

Bernard was one of the most influential and respected bookbinders of our time. During his extraordinarily long career Bernard touched the lives of bookbinders everywhere. He was an inspiration to generations of people who came into the craft, as a scholar and historian, as a pioneer of restoration, and as a leading light in the world of design binding.

The Whittington Press: A Bibliography

Bernard Middleton 5

Red-brown goatskin inlaid with jade-green and onlaid with light brown and black strips.

The Engravings of Eric Gill
Christopher Skelton, Wellingborough, 1983
35.3 x 27.5 x 7cm
Designed and bound in 1989

Bernard Middleton 3

Red goatskin with dark-green onlays; tooled in gold and black black, black goatskin doublures; tooled in blind, yellow Fabriano Roma flyleaves.

You Can Judge a Book by Its Cover: A Brief Survey of Materials by Bernard Chester Middleton
Published by Kater-Crafts Bookbinders, 1994

Made for an exhibition celebrating the variety and beauty of the art of book binding in the 20th century with 33 different interpretations of the same book by a group of distinguished and talented bookbinders. Mel Kavin, a publisher and collector with a keen interest in bookbinding, commissioned designer binder and author, Bernard Middleton, to write the text of You Can Judge a Book By Its Cover, with the goal to produce a miniature book.

Bernard Middleton

Recollections: A Life in Bookbinding by Bernard C. Middleton
Oak Knoll Press and The British Library, 2000

Bernard Middleton 2