‘Inspirational Women’

Book Design

Editorial design for a book by the National Portrait Gallery celebrating the achievements of women in its collection.

Pentagram has designed ‘Inspirational Women’, a new book published by the National Portrait Gallery in London that focuses on the stories of inspirational and pioneering women whose work has changed the course of British history. 

Throughout the years many of these women have been overlooked, however this new title aims to highlight their contributions to society and culture, both in Britain and internationally.

Spanning several hundred years, women featured in this book include portrait painter Mary Beale, artist Gwen John, space scientist and educator Maggie Aderin-Pocock, pioneering physician and surgeon Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Nobel Prize-winning British chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, community leader and activist Olive Morris, founder of the modern hospice movement Cicely Saunders and law reformer Caroline Newton.

Written by Pallant House Gallery curator Lydia Miller, with an introduction by award-winning journalist, broadcaster and writer Samira Ahmed, the 168-page hardback book features over 80 paintings, photographs and drawings. All of these images of noteworthy women are part of the National Portrait Gallery’s Inspirational People exhibition which launches next year when the whole Gallery reopens after an extensive refurbishment.

The book introduces each woman with a bold typographic intro page. Suisse Int’l Condensed by Swiss typefaces is used for headlines and Miletus Grotesk by Feliciano Type is used for text. A vibrant cerise colour was chosen to represent the energy and strength the women have brought to the world, often battling against the odds to achieve. This also creates visual impact and consistency throughout the book.

The cover of ‘Inspirational Women’ features a selection of drawings, paintings and photographs. Setting the tone for the whole book, it was important not just to highlight one woman, but to show a selection of women across all the disciplines and periods featured throughout its fascinating pages. The book ends with a timeline, bibliography and a section on further reading for those who want to find out more about these inspirational women.

Astrid Stavro
Angus Hyland
Project team
Jack Brown
Charlotte Selby
Daniela Perez
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