Prompted by an article in ‘Design Week’ by Jim Davies, which mooted the idea of an organisation to bring commercial writers and clients together, we started meeting in 2002. We were eight individuals looking for others who worked with words.
At first we simply wanted to share our experiences and ideas, and learn from one another. We met informally in interesting public spaces in London – the British Museum, the Royal Festival Hall, RIBA. The original eight founders were writers Tim Rich, Tom Lynham and Jim Davies; John Simmons, who was head of verbal identity at Interbrand; Simon Caulkin, management editor of the Observer; Martin Hennessey, who’d recently set up The Writer; Margaret Oscar and Ben Afia, who looked after tone of voice at Orange and Boots respectively.
News spread of our meetings, and it soon became clear that 26 might be something much bigger than just us. So we decided to open our doors to other writers, editors, language experts, and anyone else with a love of language, and to see what happened. We launched 26 formally in September 2003 during the London Design Festival.
Since then, we’ve hosted evening events covering everything from business writing to poetry, published books, staged ambitious exhibitions, and forged creative alliances with other like-minded organisations. You can find out more about these initiatives elsewhere on the site.
We now have hundreds of members – who pay an annual subscription of £26 – yet we still believe there’s an abiding sense of family and evolution. As we always say, 26 has no set agenda; we can be anything our members want us to be. We’re always open to suggestions and more than happy to support anyone with enough imagination and gusto to launch their own pet projects.
Here’s what we have achieved so far…