Vtopiensium Alphabetum
of Thomas More

Ian James
© March 2012

In 1516 Sir Thomas More published Utopia, the classic account of an ideal society. In his book he included an excerpt of the language and alphabet purportedly used by Utopians.

The alphabet

The alphabet is a simple geometrical cypher of Latin letters, with which More wrote his quasi-Græco-Latin language Utopian. It is quite elegant, even though the assignment of letters is phonologically arbitrary. This is my Bodoni-Utopian set, based on his originals and adding serifs and bold verticals:

utopian cypher


Here is the excerpt from the first edition, a poem in the local language about Utopia called a Tetrastichon Vernacula Vtopiensum Lingua. Below is his transcription and translation into Latin.

Utopian poem

Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein


All material on this page © Ian James, unless otherwise stated.
Last modified Jun.23,2012