TOC I - Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living

 Deborah Levy, The Cost of Living


Deborah Levy started one of the most unusual literary adventures of the past decade. Writing her autobiography in three parts regarding a special phase of her life. “The Cost of Living” describes the end of her marriage and a new start - not knowing what will come next, not knowing that she has to face an even more terminal loss.  

The Guardian ranked “The Cost of Living” under the 100 Best Books of the 21st Century.


Deborah Levy was born in South Africa in 1959. She was nine years old when her father, a member of the African National Congress, was released from prison and the family moved to England. In 2013, she began writing her three-part “living autobiography”. In “Things I Don’t Want To Know” she posed a question to herself: “Why I write”, a response to George Orwell’s famous essay from 1946.By this time, Deborah Levy was already a master of her trade – her novel “Swimming Home” had been nominated for the Booker Prize 2012, establishing her as “one of the most exciting voices in contemporary British fiction”. (Times Literary Supplement) Two more novels, “Hot Milk” and “The Man Who Saw Everything”, were subsequently nominated for the Booker Prize.


For Deborah Levy’s book we looked at many digital versions of Caslon, in the end going for William Text, designed in 2017 by a young Russian designer, Maria Doreuli, who got her MA degree from the Type & Media course at the Royal Academy of Art (KABK) in The Hague. Her version of Caslon is a contemporary inter- pretation combining English, Russian and Dutch influences into a modern international family of types.
We picked a Caslon typeface not because we wanted to play it safe, like George Bernard Shaw who insisted that all his works would be typeset in Caslon. We chose it for several reasons: it looks ordinary enough to not attract attention to itself, but lets the words speak for themselves; it looks elegant in an unfussy way, just like the tools the author likes to use: her e-bike, electric screwdriver and torch. It is very much a London typeface: hardworking but modest. The fact that Caslon’s foundry was in Old Street, not a million miles away from the Holloway Road, made it even more appropriate, if only for purely non-typographic reasons.


Inspired by the term book-jacket, the covers are based on textile patterns, in this case polka-dots. They are printed by hand in red and blue, celebrating rather than hiding the imperfections inherent in the manual process. 



Signed by Deborah Levy

Limited Edition 998 copies

Letterpress printing on a 1954 Heidelberg Cylinder

Book jacket printed on Gmund cotton paper by hand at p98a Berlin on a Korrex

Paper: 90g Schleipen Werkdruck Endpapers: Peyer Surbalin Linea Cover linen: Schabert Brillianta

Set in William Text by Maria Doreuli and FF Real by Erik Spiekermann

Illustrations by Erik Spiekermann