Harry "Ward" Ritchie (Los Angeles, California June 15, 1905 - Laguna Beach, California January 24, 1996) was an American printer, book designer, book-collector and writer of around 100 books.[1] He was part of the "Golden Age" of fine printing that took place during the 1920s and 1930s in Southern California.[2] Ritchie was also part of the Artists of the Arroyo Seco community.

Ritchie grew up in South Pasadena and attended the Marengo Avenue School, South Pasadena High School, and graduated in 1928 from Occidental College in Northeast Los Angeles.[3] After a brief stint in law school at USC, Ritchie turned his attention to printing, his true passion. He enrolled at Frank Wiggins Trade School (now Los Angeles Trade-Technical College).[4] In 1930, Ritchie apprenticed in Paris with the renowned printer François-Louis Schmied.[5]

Returning to South Pasadena, Ritchie co-founded, along with fellow printer Grant Dahlstrom and bookseller Jacob "Jake" Zeitlin, the Rounce & Coffin Club.[6] This club was created as a less formal alternative to the Zamorano Club, where other bibliophiles gathered in Los Angeles.[7] The following year, he established the Ward Ritchie Press, through which he published thousands of books, over 750 designed by himself; his output included works by poets Robinson Jeffers, Carl Sandburg, Archibald MacLeish, Carlyle MacIntyre, librarian Lawrence Clark Powell, novelist Alexandre Dumas, and many others.[3]

In 1983, Ritchie became romantically involved with film actress Gloria Stuart, who was inspired by him to design her own hand-printed books under the imprimatur Imprenta Glorias. Ritchie maintained a close relationship with Stuart until his death.[8]

Ritchie died of pancreatic cancer in Laguna Beach, California on January 24, 1996.[9]


  1. ^ Oliver (1996). Accessed 25 February 2012.
  2. ^ Lehmann (2006). Accessed 25 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b OLIVER, MYRNA (1996-01-27). "Ward Ritchie; Master Printer, Bibliophile". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  4. ^ Reuven, Ben (18 January 1976). "WEST VIEW: Ward Ritchie: His Imprimatur Is on Fine Printing". Los Angeles Times. 
  5. ^ "Ward Ritchie Collection". www.oac.cdlib.org. Retrieved 2015-09-26. 
  6. ^ Finding Aid for the Rounce & Coffin Club papers created by the Clark Memorial Library. Accessed 25 February 2012
  7. ^ Zeitlin, Jacob (1972). Small Renaissance, Southern California Style. Los Angeles: Bibliographical Society of America. p. 10. 
  8. ^ Harmetz, Aljean; Robert Berkvist (September 27, 2010). "Gloria Stuart, an Actress Rediscovered Late, Dies at 100". New York Times. p. B19. Retrieved 13 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Letson (2011)