Mrs Eaves (OT Roman)

Mrs Eaves, Zuzana Licko

Mrs Eaves is a serif font that was designed in 1996 by Zuzana Licko. It was styled after the well known font, Baskerville, which was named after the designer John Baskerville. As a sort of tribute, Mrs Eaves was named after Baskerville’s live in housekeeper, Sarah Eaves, whom he ended up marrying. Licko modeled her font after the printed samples of Baskerville allowing the impression of the ink spread to give it a bit more character, while offsetting the heaviness through a wider lowercase proportion, and the set width by reducing the x height relative to the cap height. It has been criticized and praised in nearly the same breath, as design critic and historian Robin Kinross pointed out the limitation of the font’s loose spacing while simultaneously giving it an honorary mention in the 1999 American Center for Design annual competition. Even with its criticisms, Mrs Eaves has been a top twenty selling font for years, and can be considered a classic alongside Bodoni, Helvetica, Univers, and Garamond.

I chose Mrs Eaves because while it manages to identify as a more traditional, classic serif font, it’s looseness and flared strokes make it feel less formal and more genuine. It is rambling and does not necessarily fit together perfectly, but it has strong character and somehow works, and I relate to that sentiment, as well as to the fact that it has been described as a bit awkward.

The placement of Mrs Eaves also felt right. I thought it seemed like it could be placed on the cover of an old book and it wouldn’t feel falsely authentic, but endearing, which as a past English major, I appreciated. Additionally, the Emigre Type Foundry states that Mrs Eaves is for the most part less comfortable in the setting of long texts, unless there is a luxurious amount of space to work with, as economy of space was never the goal. I thought this was relevant because as a designer, I prefer to work with ample white space, and as a person, I prefer not to be crowded, derive a lot of value and inspiration from my environment, and believe that context is important.

The more I read about Mrs Eaves, the more I knew it suited me. learned that it was featured on the cover of the album Hail To The Thief by Radiohead, my favorite band, and as a nice touch, it was even designed the year I was born.