Elizabeth Friedländer was a 20th-century German designer who specialized in calligraphy, typography, and bookwork. Upon studying typography at the Berlin Academy, Friedländer managed to create her own font and typeface, which was known to be called Friedlander-Antiqua and was changed afterward to Elisabeth-Antiqua. The reason for this change was a result of Hitler and the Nazi’s rise to power; the former was a recognizable Jewish name, as opposed to the latter. At this point, as a Jew in Germany, Friedländer was denied work opportunities because she was “not Aryan”, and hence moved to London with her portfolio and her violin (she was also a wonderful and inspiring violin player). Being an immigrant in London, she quickly learned English, and her move to the UK was without a doubt her creative golden age. Forming around her a group of artistic and creative friends, Friedländer started designing books for the notable publishing house Penguin. Friedländer was the first woman and the first Jew to design her own typeface and work with a huge company such as Penguin. In addition to all of that, Friedländer used her typography and design skills to forge German documents for the British secret services during World War II.
When the war ended, Friedländer won many awards and accolades, notably from Penguin, where, overseen by her compatriot Jan Tschichold, she designed gorgeous covers for Penguin’s pocket-sized paperbacks of classical music scores. All of the aforementioned covers shared Elizabeth typeface’s expressiveness. Friedländer continued working for Penguin long after Tschichold had left, and augmented her design abilities from merely music scores into designing novels and other literary projects that were published at the time. Being a woman and a Jew, Friedländer was a revolutionary figure in the world of design, inspiring generations to come.
A first-edition copy of Friedländer’s 11th edition for Penguin publishing can be found in Dan Alexander + Co Collection at Chateau Cramirat.