Making a Font Based on Oscar Wilde's Handwriting

Have you found this page after searching for “Oscar Wilde font” because you want to use Wilde’s handwriting for a project? Please see the note at the bottom of this article.

For quite a while I have wanted to make a font based on Oscar Wilde's handwriting. This might sound like rather a niche life goal, but it's because I'm working on comics about Wilde. Usually, I write from Wilde's point of view, using Wilde's own words, so it makes sense to use Wilde's own handwriting. My own (awful) handwriting would look out of place, and off-the-shelf fonts often seem rather sterile when combined with my loose drawing style.

A 'letter' by Oscar Wilde, made using my new font

The problem was, I didn't know how to make a font. Until now! Someone I follow on Twitter mentioned a web app called Calligraphr. I had a look and turns out it's great. You tell the app which characters you want in your typeface, download and print a template, and write all your characters on it. Then you scan it in and—hey presto!—you've got a font based on your own handwriting.

Unfortunately, Wilde is not in a position to write the alphabet on a piece of paper because he is dead. I'm not one to let that stop me, though. I downloaded the manuscript of De Profundis, which the British Library has helpfully digitised and made freely available, and searched it for a full set of letters. Wilde's handwriting is notoriously messy, so it took a while to find everything I needed. I supplemented the long prison letter with some other autograph letters and poems held at the Morgan Library.

Some example ligatures from my Oscar Wilde font

Wilde often wrote the same letter in different ways. For example, his lowercase 'd' is sometimes formed in the standard way, but often the ascender swoops to the left (see the 'd' in Madison in my faked latter, above). When the letter 'e' is joined to a previous letter it is formed in the standard way; when it is not joined, Wilde tends to write it like a Greek epsilon (ε). I collected these alternative characters, as well as ligatures (letters that Wilde typically joined together). After cutting and pasting the characters into Adobe Illustrator, I traced over them and uploaded my templates to Calligraphr. A little nudging was necessary to ensure a generous Wildean spacing between the words, but the process was relatively easy.

The font doesn't replicate Wilde's handwriting exactly. My aim was to produce a typeface that resembles Wilde's style while maximising legibility: after all, I don't want readers to struggle to read my comics.

Would you like to use the font for a tattoo? If so, please see the listing in my online shop. If you would like to use the font for any other project, please get in touch. Find my contact details on my website. Please tell me what you want to use the font for. If you want to use it to reproduce one of Wilde's quotes, please also tell me which quote you want to use.

Comments

  1. Where can i find the font? he's my fave author

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    1. I have not made the font available.

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    2. Can u send it to me ,pls? i have to do a tattoo with a quote of Oscar and I would like to use a font that reminds me his handwriting...please :(

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    3. Please email me with more information about what you want to use the font for and what the quote will be. You can find my email on the About + Contact page on my website.

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  2. Hey there! I am currently working on a very, very fast job (til this saturday) to produce the title for a movie based on a story from Oscar Wilde. I am a typographer (graphic designer) and I just saw your post and I would love to check if the font (I haven't seen it) could be a match. Would you send it to me? That would be really nice!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for getting in touch. Please email me and we can discuss it. You can find my address on the contact page of my website.

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