A small typeface family, Shelley Script® has a single weight of lowercase letters and three variations of uppercase. Generally used more for display and decoration, its graceful curves and elaborate flourishes convey a sense of charm, elegance and beauty.
Shelley Script History
Designed for Linotype in 1972 by Matthew Carter, Shelley Script can be seen as a companion for Snell Roundhand, the typeface he designed in 1966, which was notable because it connected lowercase letters like actual cursive handwriting. Snell and Shelley both were proponents of roundhand penmanship, characterized by a flowing, open style. The variations of stroke width evident in their styles are due not to the movement of a soft-tipped writing instrument or calligrapher’s brush, but the pressure on a steel-nibbed pen which can be both pulled and pushed.
Despite their shared advocacy of roundhand penmanship, Snell’s and Shelley’s individual styles were markedly different, and Carter is faithful to both in his typefaces. The Shelley typefaces generally have more activity in their uppercase flourishes, and while both have small x-heights relative to their ascenders and descenders, the descenders on the Shelley Script are proportionately longer than those on the Snell.
When Carter and Mike Parker established the Bitstream typeface foundry in 1981, they couldn’t distribute Shelley Script because Linotype owned the trademark; Bitstream therefore released an identical typeface called English 111™.
Shelley Script Usage
Shelley Script is an outstanding selection for wedding correspondence, diplomas and other certificate work, invitations and personal calling cards. While unsuited for continual text, it can also be a practical choice for display and signage use when an elegant, formal tone is desirable.
Shelley Script can also be used to great advantage as a component of advertising, for example as a headline or as a small block of text.