Nancy Ruth Leavitt’s involvement with the hand-lettered book began with an early love of reading. She received degrees in both biology and art and studied lettering and bookbinding in the United States and Great Britain. Since 1985 She has created over 100 unique, contemporary illuminated manuscript books and over 25 edition and collaborative books filled with lettering, poetry, and colorful painting. Her work may be found in public collections around the world including: Boston Athenaeum; Nancy Bloch Collection at Smith College; Bainbridge Island Museum of Art; Jack Ginsberg Collection of Artist’s Books, South Africa; Houghton Library at Harvard; National Museum for Women in the Arts in Washington; Special Collections Library at the University of Western Michigan, Kalamazoo; Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and in numerous private collections.
She has received several Good Idea Grants from the Maine Arts Commission for research into her craft including the production of writing quills in a project entitled Cutting a Thousand Quills and A Legacy of Lettering, a calligraphic history of the Guild of Book Workers, presented in New York City at the 100th anniversary of the Guild of Book Workers in 2006. In 2002 she received the Stephen Harvard Award for book design from the Baxter Society. She was a 2016 recipient of the Maryann Hartman Award, given annually to Maine Women for their “work achievement, spirit, and zest for life”.