Bertha M. Sprinks Goudy, American, 1869-1935
Bertha Goudy was a bookkeeper when she married a fellow bookkeeper, Frederic William Goudy (1865-1947), in 1897.
Fred Goudy would later become arguably the most admired and well-known of American twentieth-century type designers.
The posthumous tributes which appeared in Bookmaking on the Distaff Side (1937), and Bertha S. Goudy, First Lady of Printing (1958) make it clear, however, that her contributions were of the greatest significance to their joint enterprises.
Bertha herself, for example, cut their 24-point Deepdene italic design, and set the type for much of the output of the Village Press, which they founded together with Will Ransom, in 1903. Printing, an Essay by William Morris & Emery Walker, was their first publication, and their designs continue Morris’s revival of fine craftsmanship in the book arts.
Fred Goudy’s own touching tribute to his wife reveals her importance to him and to their work:
To me she was “my beloved helpmate.” She encouraged me when my own courage faltered; uncomplaining she endured the privations and vicissitudes of our early companionship; her intelligent and ready counsel I welcomed and valued; her consummate craftsmanship made possible many difficult undertakings.
She ever sought to minimize any exploitation of her great attainments, that the acclaim which rightfully belonged to her should come, instead, to me.
For two-score years she unselfishly aided me in every way in my work in the fields of type design and typography, and enabled me to secure a measure of success which alone could never have been mine.