Thursday, 13 October 2016

Anne Joshua

Anne Joshua, who carried out all The Political Quarterly’s typesetting for over 30 years, died on 21 November 2016 in Oxford after suffering from multiple cancers.

Anne started work in the 1970s taking in academic typing, which she could do at home while she brought up her children. Very quickly she noticed that the technology of typesetting and printing was changing. One major advance was the development of new and sophisticated types of electric golf-ball typewriter using single-strike carbon ribbons. These allowed a single operator to produce high-quality output that at its best was almost as good as printers’ type. For the first time it was possible to run a serious home-based typesetting firm, as Anne did - initially with a single machine on her kitchen table.

This simple, adaptable and relatively inexpensive technology, colloquially known as ‘IBM setting’ after the manufacturer of most of the machines, had its most marked effect on academic publishing. It substantially reduced fixed costs and meant that hitherto marginal or uneconomic books and texts with small print runs were now publishable. And it was here, not in the later computer era, that the world of typesetting began to change for good. Anne was part of this movement and very much a pioneer.

She invested in increasingly sophisticated technology, filling the basement of her house with equipment that many established firms would envy. As somebody at the very top of her craft, Anne also exemplified the other major advantage of IBM setting: in the hands of a top operator the availability of multiple typefaces (simply achieved by swapping golf balls in and out while keying at speed, something wonderful to watch in action) made it very suitable for complex work such as maths, Old English and logic.

Anne acquired an enviable reputation for this kind of work. One of us (CC) recalls a day in the 1980s when he had been told by a publisher (not of PQ) that an equation he wanted to use in a chapter was far too complex and difficult for the typesetters and too expensive for the project concerned. He took it over the road to Anne (who lived opposite at the time), and within 20 minutes she had typeset the equation, charging the publishers a tenth of their own estimate.

That can-do approach enabled her to build up Joshua Associates, a flourishing business employing several staff that served the extensive publishing industry based in and around Oxford. After the IBM setting of the previous era drifted into obsolescence she adopted new computer based setting technology, standardising on the 3B2 system. By 1992 Joshua Associates was large enough to move to new premises in Oxford’s Marston Road. Until very recently she was one of the very last British-based typesetting firms competing successfully for such work with the massive industry that has developed in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere in Asia. Her last major project was PQ’s major collection of Bernard Crick’s essays, Defending Politics: Bernard Crick at The Political Quarterly, but she continued running her firm until she was diagnosed with cancer this summer.

Anne provided far more than just a basic setting service. By the mid-1990s the design of PQ was beginning to look rather tired, and along with a change of format this provided an opportunity to redesign both the cover and internal typography. Anne came to the rescue with a new two-column text design in Palatino and an elegant cover using the same typeface, which launched with issue 1 of 1996. In particular, she created the instantly recognisable and deceptively simple PQ logo that still identifies the journal and all its works twenty years later. While cover designs and fashions have come and gone, Anne’s logo and her internal text design remain virtually unchanged.

In her work Anne combined exacting professional standards with deep friendliness. To come to her with work past its deadline was not an occasion to look forward to; but you would leave the meeting joking and laughing. In her personal life she has been unfailingly caring and kind. Anyone coming within her radius with anxieties or problems would be taken under her protective wing and helped unobtrusively to feel better about themselves.

Steve Ball
(Assistant editor, PQ, 2002-16)

Colin Crouch
(Joint editor, PQ, 1985-94; chairman of the editorial board, 1999-2009)