McLean, Ruari 1917-2006

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McLean, Ruari 1917-2006
(John David Ruari McDowall Hardie McLean)


See index for CA sketch: Born June 10, 1917, in Minnigaff, Scotland; died March 27, 2006. Typographer, graphic designer, and author. A highly respected typographer, McLean was noted especially for his work on magazines and for his books on typography. After attending the Dragon School and Eastbourne College, he obtained typography experience, at his parents' urging, at Shakespeare Head Press. He then gained more knowledge in the field by working in Germany, studying at the Edinburgh School of Printing, and then back home in England, where he was eventually employed at the advertising agency run by J. Walter Thompson in 1938 and at Lund Humphries, a printing company in Bradford, England. When World War II began, he enlisted in the Royal Naval Reserve, despite suffering from an eye problem, and saw action with the Free French submarines and in the Pacific theater. His service earned him a Croix de Guerre in 1942 and a Distinguished Service Cross in 1943. After the war, McLean found work with Penguin Books and helped design publications for the Puffin imprint. Beginning in 1951, he taught for two years at the Royal College of Art. Next, he worked on designing such publications as the children's magazine Eagle in 1950, followed by other periodicals, including Robin, Girl, andSwift. McLean then became a cofounder and director, from 1953 to 1958, for the book design and printing company Rainbird, McLean Ltd. in London. From 1958 to 1968 he was founding editor for another magazine, Motif. Afterwards, he worked as a freelance typographic designer. A scholar of the history of typography, McLean had an enormous collection of book design work from the Victorian era. He would publish several books on the subject, too, includingVictorian Book Design and Colour Printing (1963; 2nd edition, 1972), Victorian Publishers' Bookbindings in Cloth and Leather (1974), and Victorian Publishers' Bookbindings in Paper (1983). Appointed Commander of the British Empire in 1973, he was also given the Laureate Award in 1993 from the American Printing Historical Association. Among his other publications are Modern Book Design from William Morris to the Present Day (1958), Magazine Design (1969), and How Typography Happens (2000).



McLean, Ruari, True to Type: A Typographical Autobiography, Lund Humphries (London, England), 1997.

McLean, Ruari, Half Seas Under: Seaman, Submariner, Canoeist, Thomas Reed (Bradford on Avon, England), 2001.


Times (London, England), March 30, 2006, p. 66.

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McLean, Ruari 1917-2006

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McLean, Ruari 1917-2006