7 July 2018

It’s a long story……………………..

Petr Somo delivering the Malvern Community Partnership lecture 7 July 2018

Dr. Petr Somol of Malvern’s partner town Marianske Lazne in the Czech Republic, and a regular visitor to Malvern over the last fifteen years, gave the annual Community Partnership lecture at the Lewis Theatre at Malvern College during Civic Week. “The History of Book, Script and Typeface Culture” outlined the history of written communication and numeracy.

Petr took his audience on a trip through history back to 900.000 B.C. and the first evidence of symbols drawn and scratched on rock, through Mesopotamian clay tokens depicting early forms of numbers to the present day immediacy of electronic mass communication such as Twitter and Facebook.

Petr covered many of the most important developments of the dissemination of the written word such as Gutenberg’s invention of movable type which brought the cost of printed works down to a hitherto unknown low level, thereby encouraging literacy. By allowing easy text changes, books and documents could be updated to reflect changes in thinking, the law and medical knowledge. Petr reflected on the demise of Gutenberg who died in poverty whilst his apprentice Peter Schoffer flourished by adopting a more commercial approach to his master’s work and speaking against Gutenberg in a court case. After which Schöffer set up in partnership with Gutenberg’s former financier Fust to form the Fust and Schoffer publishing house.

At the end of a most interesting talk Petr was asked whether there were any notes to accompany his very detailed subject. To the surprise of all concerned he produced a 4 metre long scroll detailing the whole of his talk as a timeline. Printed in association with a company in Rakovnik, Czech Republic, using the latest computer printing technology and presented on linen, in an unmistakable reference to the past. The scroll has been presented to the people of Malvern for permanent display and access for study. Suggestions as to where and how it might be displayed are welcome.