Communication Arts said of Bradbury "When it came to the blending of photography, typography and color, nobody did it better than Bradbury Thompson... In his own quiet way, he expanded the boundaries of the printed page and influenced the design of a generation of art directors."
Thompson was born in Topeka, Kansas. He attended Washburn College and graduated in 1934. A facility called the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center now stands at Washburn University. In 1937, Thompson designed the college's mascot, "The Ichabod".
Thompson was art director of Mademoiselle magazine for fifteen years beginning in 1945.
A signature design from Thompson was his Washburn College Bible. This book was one of the first to use the Sabon typeface designed by Jan Tschichold and released in 1967.
Thompson was also an important designer of U.S. postage stamps throughout the middle decades of the 20th Century.
Thompson served on the faculty of Yale University. Thompson received the AIGA Gold Medal in 1975. He received the Type Director's Club Medal in 1986.
He died on November 1, 1995.
Thompson developed a font called Alphabet 26 or a "monoalphabet" - an alphabet where the uppercase and lowercase forms of each letter were identical, and case was expressed through the letter size only. (In the conventional Latin alphabet, this is already the case for letters like "o" and "O" or "s" and "S", but not for a/A, r/R, etc.) His monoalphabet was a transitional serif (modelled after Baskerville) with lowercase a, e, m, and n mixed with uppercase B, D, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, P, Q, R, T, U, and Y. (The forms of C/c, O/o, S/s, V/v, W/w, X/x and Z/z are essentially the same in uppercase and lowercase letters to begin with). This simplification was intended to make the letters of the alphabet more logical and intuitive, and hence render the alphabet easier to learn and use. Thompson first published the alphabet in a Westvaco Inspirations for Printers.