Since as long ago as 1496, readers have enjoyed books typeset in Bembo. The very name comes from the first book to use the face – a small volume of poems by the Italian cleric Pietro Bembo.
The face itself was designed a year earlier by Francesco Griffo for Venetian printer Aldus Manutius.
The British branch of Monotype Corporation revised Bembo in 1928-29 during a period of renewed interest in the printing of the Italian Renaissance, under the influence of Monotype executive and printing historian Stanley Morison, and has since been used as the body text for countless books. It followed a previous more faithful revival of Manutius’s work, Poliphilus, whose reputation it largely eclipsed.
Bembo has enjoyed continuing popularity as an attractive and uncluttered bookface. Prominent users include Penguin, the Everyman’s Library series, Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, the National Gallery, and Yale University Press. Bembo has been released in versions for phototypesetting and in several revivals as digital fonts by Monotype and other companies. Its seven centuries of longevity can only continue, claiming millions more readers – even if almost all of them will be blissfully unaware of why their reading material is so effortless to take in.