Handwritten: Remarkable People on the Page

SKU: BODS-102055

'Like the fine manuscripts it explores, this book rewards all who read it. There is no better way to get closer to people from the past than reading over their shoulders, and through their handwriting we feel an even more intimate connection across time.' - Janina Ramirez

The less it is part of everyday life, the more the appeal of handwriting grows. This wonderful selection of treasures from the Bodleian Library introduces remarkable individuals through documents written by their own hands. From the second century BCE to the present, individual lives and relationships are illuminated through the writing that has been left behind. We see Elizabeth I attempting to win over her new stepmother, Alan Bennett working out the character of Mr Toad, Henry Moore advising soap and water for cleaning sculpture and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin balancing childcare with discovering the structure of penicillin.

Here you will find letters, first drafts, autograph albums and hastily scribbled notes, fair copies, marked-up proofs and doodles. Divided into themed categories, the entries feature novelists Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Arthur Conan Doyle and Raymond Chandler; scientists Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein; reformers Emmeline Pankhurst, Florence Nightingale and Mohandas Gandhi; and explorers Walter Ralegh, T.E. Lawrence and Patrick Leigh Fermor among many others. Each of these extraordinary people has passed on a manuscript or document with a fascinating story to tell.

Lesley Smith is Fellow and Tutor in Politics at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.


  • Harback
  • 320 pages, 245 x 190mm
  • ISBN 9781851245956
  • Publication October 2023

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