It is with tremendous sadness that we report the news that our Patron and friend, Bernard Middleton, has died. He was 94. 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.

Bernard followed his father into bookbinding, training at the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the British Museum. 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 LSP. For two years he was manager at the famous firm of Zaehnsdorf's, then in 1953 he and his wife, Dora set up in business for themselves in Soho. From 1960 Bernard lived and worked in Clapham, south London.

Bernard's work as a restorer was legendary: collectors and book sellers all over the world marvelled as his mastery. He also, more than any of his contemporaries, developed a passion for the history of the craft. His large library of books on bookbinding enabled him to write many articles on the subject, and in 1963, his great work, A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique was published. Bernard's book collection is now housed at the Carey Library at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. In 2000 RIT hosted a memorable conference to celebrate its opening.

Bernard's other major book was The Restoration of Leather Bindings, which summed up all he had learnt or developed at the bench. This remains an invaluable guide to many who make their living restoring books.

Bernard was a founder member of the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders (later Designer Bookbinders). He was a Fellow and President of DB, and honourary Fellow and Patron of SoB.

Above all he was a courteous, modest and gentle man, and a great friend to many. He will be sadly missed.

Dominic Riley, President, SoB


Morley College in London are advertising the post of 'Sessional Tutor: Bookbinding'. Closing date for applications is 21st January 2019.

Full details here.


Foredge painter Martin Frost has been awarded an MBE for services to his craft. Martin is the last practitioner of this highly specialised discipline and received the Maker of the Year award from the Heritage Craft Association in 2017. He has given lectures and run classes in the UK and abroad and has done much to raise the profile of this endangered craft.


PHILIP SMITH MBE: 1928 - 2018

It is with great sadness that we must report the death of Philip Smith. He died peacefully on 27th December 2018 at the age of 90.

Philip began his career in bookbinding and book art in 1949, graduating with First Class Honours at the Royal College of Art in London in 1954. From about 1959, when he developed the technique of feathered onlays with backparing, called 'maril', he consistently explored the potential of the physical form of the book as an alternative art medium. He added new terms to the vocabulary of bookbinding, as well as making innovations in structural and visual design.

Having gained experience with binding and conservation work under the guidance of Sydney Cockerell, he became an advisor to the British Museum Team working in the Florence Flood aftermath of 1966-67. He worked as a creative book-artist independently from 1961, initiating the development of the Designer Bookbinders society from the Guild of Contemporary Bookbinders. He was President of Designer Bookbinders from 1977 to 1979 and was inaugural editor of The New Bookbinder, serving on the editorial board for 15 years.

He was a Fellow and Honorary Fellow of DB and an Honorary Fellow of SoB. He won numerous international gold and silver medals for his innovative work, and in 2000 he was awarded an MBE for services to Art.

Philip is survived by his three children and five grandchildren. The funeral service will be held at St Margaret's church in Yatton Keynell, Wiltshire, with date to be announced.

In the meantime, the family would welcome any anecdotes or thoughts on their father and his life's work from friends and anyone else who might wish to contribute.


Designer Bookbinders have announced the winners of their 2018 Bookbinding Competition. The Edgar Mansfield medal was won this year by Mel Jefferson with his binding of the set book, Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man, published by The Folio Society (pictured below).

Full details can be found in the Competition section of the the DB website.


MAUREEN DUKE BEM (1928 - 2018)
Many many thanks to everyone who attended both the funeral and wake. All the family appreciated the celebration of Maureen's life from all the cards and emails.

Sara Tupper


MAUREEN DUKE BEM (1928 - 2018)
Maureen's funeral will be on Tuesday 13th November at 4pm at The Oaks Crematorium, Barton Road, Havant, PO9 5NA.


MAUREEN DUKE BEM (1928 - 2018)

It is with very great sadness that we must report the death, on 27th October, of our Patron, our mentor, our friend, Maureen Duke.

It is difficult to imagine anyone more committed to bookbinding education than Maureen.

When, in the Queen’s 2017 New Year Honours List, she was made a Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM), for life-long service to the teaching and propagation of the crafts of Bookbinding, Conservation and Restoration, those who knew her were delighted but unsurprised. Indeed, the usual reaction was one of mystification that it had take so long for Maureen's services to her craft to be officially recognised, as she had been a skilled practitioner and inspirational teacher for 70 years.

She had a profound influence on students and fellow craftsmen and women across the UK and around the world, and continuously motivated the members of our Society with energy, commitment and high distinction. She commanded the deep respect of all of us for the vigour and enthusiasm with which she preserved, nurtured and interpreted across several generations of bookbinders.

Not only have so many of us here in the UK benefited from her tuition, Maureen lectured and advised in the United States, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Romania and Venezuela. She was an Honourary Fellow of SoB and her election as Chair, President and one of the two Patrons of the Society was tangible proof of the love, respect and admiration in which she was held.

Maureen was trained at Guildford School of Art by William Matthews, obtaining her NDD and City & Guilds Certificate (Silver Medal) in 1949. She worked as a bookbinder until 1978 when she returned to Guildford to teach and initiated the 2-year diploma course which she led until her retirement in 1993. Free then to travel, she did so, training, demonstrating and lecturing all over the world: Australia, New Zealand, USA, South America and Europe. She introduced new tools and materials, pioneered new techniques, and maintained connections to suppliers and bookbinders as a consultant and trainer.

The world of bookbinding – and beyond – is a much poorer place without Maureen. We shall miss her skills, her knowledge and her boundless enthusiasm. But most of all we will miss her friendship.

Thank you, Maureen.

Funeral and memorial details to follow.





Green’s Books has moved to Malvern...
To celebrate the opening of the new studio, Society members are invited to join Arthur for a glass of fizz at an open-day.

Saturday 18th August, 14:00 - 17:00pm
Unit 6, Cygnet Business Centre,
Worcester Road
Hanley Swan,



SoB/DB Joint Workshops

The 2018/19 programme of Joint Workshops is now available here. As ever, places are limited so don't delay if you would like to register!


Education & Training Seminar 2018 - Binding Project

It’s now time to register your bound books for the exhibition at the Seminar. If you are entering a binding of Judith Ellis' Two Points East: a View of Maritime Norfolk, please email Kate Gwynn with your name, a brief description (not more than 3 sentences) of the techniques used, and the design concept. This should either be in Word or Pages form and not contain any photographs. This description will be printed in the catalogue and on a label.

The closing date for registration is Friday 10th August, 2018.

Your completed book will need to be taken to the Seminar with a slip of paper inside with your name and a contact number. You will be asked after Registration to take your book to the Gymnasium where the exhibition will be held. If you aren’t attending, please find a fellow SoB member, who is attending, to courier and collect the book for you.

We’re looking forward to seeing many different and exciting bindings!


SoB and GDPR
The Society has published GDPR-compliant data privacy statements relating to data it holds on members and data collected for attendance at national and regional events. Links to the statements can be found here.


Please note that our Online Shop is now closed. All SoB publications still in print are available to purchase from the J.Hewit & Sons website at the links below:

Bookbinder & Competition Catalogues



We are sad to announce the death of George Barlee on the 10th of February 2018.

George was Head of Management at J. Hewit & Sons for many years, during which time he oversaw radical modernisation of the company's tanning processes, culminating in the award of a Royal Warrant in 1975. George remained a warrant holder until his retirement in 1992.

In 1994 he was appointed as the President of the Society of Bookbinders, a position he held for four years.

For more information, visit the J. Hewit & Sons website.



With opportunities to study bookbinding in a formal way constantly in demand, it’s always good to know when new ones emerge. Such a venture is launching this summer at a beautiful bindery in rural Wiltshire. The venue is the purpose-built workshop in the grounds of Philippa and Dieter Räder’s home in Highworth near Swindon. Dieter has built a really stunning space, very well equipped with plenty of room for students.

Joining them in this newly founded school are Dominic Riley and Michael Burke. All four are long-standing SoB members and well known in the bookbinding world as teachers and conference speakers.

The school is to be known as Book Camp, and there’s a clue in the name: participants are invited to pitch their tents in the grounds of the house, bringing a unique Summer Camp feel to the event. It’s a lovely sheltered spot with plenty of flat lawn, so it should be a lot of fun.

Four two-day workshops are planned, with a day off in the middle set aside for special trips. The evenings will be spent having dinner together, enjoying informal presentations and, of course, sitting around the camp fire talking books. In other words, it will be an immersive experience and a welcome addition to our bookbinding year.

Read more about Book Camp here.



World Book Day is a worldwide celebration of books and reading. On 2-3 March in this, the 21st year, Windsor Castle will be marking its unique contribution to the world of books.

Further details here.


Applications are invited for this year’s Award.
The Norie Trust is a small charitable trust based in the South West of England. The Trust funds various projects, many of which are associated with literature and the arts. The Trust also assists community based projects which aim to improve the quality of people's lives.

The Trust have again generously offered the Society funds of £2,000.00 a year from 2018 - 2022 to fund an educational award to assist professionals in the book field.

The Trust wished to recognise Maureen Duke’s inspirational teaching and dedication to education and thus the award is known as The Maureen Duke Educational Award.

The recipient of the award each year should be a bookbinder, book conservator, book restorer or book artist who has worked professionally in the UK. for the last two years prior to the award. They should be intending to continue to work professionally, preferably in the UK.   

The Society of Bookbinder's Education and Training Task Force administer the award on behalf of the Trust and the award panel consists of the Chair of the Society, Chair of E&T and Maureen herself.  

The applicant will be required to email the following to Claire Redfern.

  • CV
  • A brief outline of the nature of study wishing to be undertaken, indicating how this will enhance their work, and their plans for the future.
  • Full Breakdown of costs - fees, travel and subsistence.
  • Images of work completed in the two years prior to application.
  • Two references.

The recipient will be required to write an account of their study and experience gained for others in the field.

This year the closing date for applications will be Friday 6th July 2018 with an announcement of the successful recipient to be made at the AGM at the Seminar at Chester University on the 30th August 2018. 

The announcement will be posted on the Website, in the E Bulletin, and by notification to Regional Secretaries of SOB and the secretaries to Designer Bookbinders, The Society of Archivists, The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals and the Society of Scribes and Illuminators.


SoB Education & Training Seminar 2018

Full details of this year's Seminar – including online booking – are now available here.


The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme – update
The first intake to The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme has recently completed Year One and both Ellie Lanham and Matt Stockl have gained merit in City & Guilds Level 1 and distinction in City & Guilds Level 2 awards in bookbinding.

Matt and Ellie with Bernard Middleton

Their fascinating and comprehensive illustrated report can be seen here (PDF).



The Panel for this year’s Award was Maureen Duke, Sarah Burns (Chair of SoB) and Claire Redfern (Chair of Education & Training).

The standard of applications was excellent and only after much discussion was it decided that The Maureen Duke Award 2017 should be awarded to Kae Carlstedt-Duke.

Kae, a member of London & South Region, lives and works on the Isle of Wight, where she has her own bindery. She also runs workshops to introduce bookbinding at The Quay Arts Centre at Newport, where she is a resident artist.


SoB International Bookbinding Competition 2017

Full detalis and images of all the prize-winners are now available in the COMPETITION section.


The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme

Recruitment of the 2017 intake to The Queen's Bindery Apprenticeship Scheme is now open. Full details can be seen here and application to this five-year hand bookbinding training programme is online via the Royal Collection Trust website.

Applications close on 18 June 2017 at 23:55 BST.


Martin Frost Wins Heritage Crafts Association Maker of the Year Award

We would like to congratulate fore-edge painter Martin Frost on receiving The Heritage Craft Association Maker of the Year Award. Martin is the only fore-edge painter still working in the UK and was a speaker at the Society’s conference in 2015. He has given lectures and demonstrations to SoB and Designer Bookbinders.

The Heritage Crafts Association is the advocacy body for traditional heritage crafts. Working in partnership with Government and key agencies, it provides a focus for craftspeople, groups, societies and guilds, as well as individuals who care about the loss of traditional crafts skills. It aims to support heritage crafts through a range of means, including advice, networking, training and access to public and private funding.

Examples of Martin’s work can be seen here.


It is with great sadness that we must announce the death, on 30th March, of Chris Clarkson, who would have been known to many members. He worked at Sandy Cockerell's and was involved in the rescue of books following the Florence floods, amongst many other achievements.

These words from his friend and colleage Nicholas Pickwoad (via Conservation DistList):
'Chris was the pre-eminent figure in the world of book and manuscript conservation and the history of bookbinding. His wide interests, extraordinary capacity for hard work, his thoroughness and endless curiosity, as well as his remarkable manual skills, gave him a stature in the field that it will be hard to equal. He taught and lectured in many countries across the world and will be remembered as an inspiring teacher and an unequalled source of knowledge. He will be greatly missed.'

31 March 2017



The Set Book
Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems
Introduction by Lavinia Greenlaw

The Folio edition is 216x138mm, 160 pages. It is a beautifully presented collection that celebrates the radical style of a visionary American poet. Integrated wood engravings by Jane Lydbury draw on Dickinson’s love of nature.

The cost of the set book is £25 (to Members) and £30 for non-members to include packing, postage and entrance fee. Entry details and a copy of the 2017 set book can be obtained via the DB website.

Every entrant must bind the set book but we welcome open-choice books and artist’s books. The closing date for entries will be October 14th 2017.

The Bookbinding Competition is sponsored by Designer Bookbinders and The Folio Society and is open to anyone resident in the UK with the exception of Fellows of Designer Bookbinders.


The Royal Collection Trust have announced two new appointments within the Royal Bindery, Windsor Castle:

Glenn Bartley commences as Bookbinder on 6 March 2017. He has been a professional bookbinder for over thirty years. Having studied at Guildford College he then worked for a bindery in Oxford for five years, and established his own bindery in Culham, Oxfordshire in 1991. Elected a Fellow of Designer Bookbinders in 1999, Glenn has exhibited his contemporary bookbindings worldwide. In 1996 he won the DB Silver Medal (Mansfield Medal) and in 2005 the SoB International Competition 1st Prize, Fine Binding category for professional binders. He has worked for clients from Oxford University to private collectors and institutions around the world as well as demonstrating and lecturing widely on traditional binding techniques.

Philippa Räder takes on the position of Head of the Royal Bindery with immediate effect. She has been a book conservator-restorer in various capacities for the Royal Collection since 2003 and is professionally accredited through the Institute of Conservation. A Cambridge graduate in English, Philippa trained in book and paper conservation at the Getty Research Institute, California and previously held positions at The Huntington Library, California and The National Archives (UK). She was elected Chair of the London & South Region of the Society of Bookbinders in February.


Applications are invited for this year’s Award.

The Norie Trust generously offered the Society funds of £2,000.00 a year from 2013 - 2017 to fund an educational award to assist professionals in the book field in recognition of Maureen Duke’s inspirational teaching and dedication to education.

Full details here (PDF)