Simon Garfield biography

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Simon Garfield

Simon Garfield

Simon Garfield Biography

Simon Garfield is the author or editor of 17 works of nonfiction, united in content solely by the love of a compelling story. His diverse and unpredictable subject matter ranges from the austere post-war Britain of Our Hidden Lives to the devastating effects of Aids in The End of Innocence, and from the colourful micro-history Mauve to the sad/hilarious annals of the peculiar British entertainment The Wrestling.

His biggest hits include Just My Type, an exploration of the meaning of fonts, On The Map, a meditation on cartography and our place in the world, and The Nation's Favourite, about John Peel's desire to beat up Simon Bates.

Simon was born in London in 1960. At University College School he brutally edited the alternative school magazine Compass, and at the London School of Economics he spent most of his energy on Beaver, the LSE newspaper, an endeavour that won him the title Guardian/NUS Student Journalist of the Year. This led to his first job writing radio documentaries for Radio 1 and a role as a sub-editor on the Radio Times. Freelance writing on Blitz preceded a job writing about music at Time Out. Here he spent eight fruitful years travelling the world in pursuit of unguarded quotes from overpaid prima donnas, but he also worked his way up to become editor, which led to being named Editor of the Year in the British Society of Magazine Awards.

He joined the Independent on Sunday at launch, and, in the very first issue, wrote convincingly about the death of vinyl records. He was a staff features writer on the Independent, radio critic for 10 years at the Mail on Sunday, and then spent five years on the Observer, combining journalism with books, writing chiefly about health, science and technology. One of his stories was about the rebirth of vinyl records. In 2005 he was named Mind Journalist of the Year for his articles on mental health. His study of Aids won the Somerset Maugham Prize, and he has been a full-time nonfiction author since 2008.

Several of his works have been turned into plays and television films, and his celebration of letter writing To The Letter was an inspiration for the 'Letters Live' theatrical events starring Benedict Cumberbatch and friends; the sequence of letters My Dear Bessie was made into a BBC Radio 4 play with Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey.

The Guardian called Simon 'the thinking grown-up's favourite teacher', an accolade he treasures. He is a trustee of the Mass Observation Archive. He has two grown-up children, lives in London with his wife, the chef Justine Kanter, and writes mostly to the sound of seagulls in St Ives.

Simon Garfield's website

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Interview

Simon Garfield, author of Just My Type, discusses the extraordinary history of fonts; which of the more than 100,000 estimated font designs in the world he considers the best, and worst; and explains why you should be cautious about downloading fonts off the internet.

How did you become interested in fonts?
I've been interested in fonts long before I knew any of their names or anything of their history. It began seriously for me when I bought my first album covers as a boy - I clearly remember going to a shop near my home in north-west London, buying David Bowie's Hunky Dory and Electric Warrior by T Rex, and gazing at their sleeves on the bus. That was the beginning of it. A fascination with book jackets soon followed, and then the credits on TV shows, and then computers.

Why are there so many different fonts?
I haven't counted them all, but there are an estimated 100,000 different font designs in the world, most of them available to download on your computer. Of course we don't need them all, but then again we probably don't need all the songs in the world either, or all the paintings. But we will always need to express our emotions in new and modern ways, and we are a creative race, so we need to keep on inventing.

Everyone likes to ask what your favorite font is. I'll go one further: what is your favorite letter? Why?
At the moment (and this tends to change every week), my favorite letter is the lower-case 'i' in the London Underground font. Designed by Edward Johnston almost...

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Books by this Author

Books by Simon Garfield at BookBrowse
Timekeepers jacket To the Letter jacket On the Map jacket Just My Type jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Simon Garfield but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

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    If you enjoyed:
    Timekeepers

    Try:
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  • Simon Garfield

    Simon Garfield

    Simon Garfield is the author or editor of 17 works of nonfiction, united in content solely by the love of a compelling story. His diverse and unpredictable subject matter ranges from the austere post-war Britain of Our ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Just My Type

    Try:
    Timekeepers
    by Simon Garfield

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Book Discussion
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A love story for things lost and restored, a lyrical hymn to the power of forgiveness.

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