Reading Those Old Handwritten Letters and Diaries


My ninth Rule. When you get to the end of a notesheet, and find you have more to say, take another piece of paper–a whole sheet, or a scrap, as the case may demand: but whatever you do, don’t cross! Remember the old proverb ”Cross-writing makes cross reading”. “The old proverb?” you say, inquiringly. “How old?” Well, not so very ancient, I must confess. In fact, I’m afraid I invented it while writing this paragraph! Still, you know, “old” is a comparative term. I think you would be quite justified in addressing a chicken, just of of the shell, as “Old boy!” when compared with another chicken, that was only half-out! (The Reverend Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, in Eight or Nine Wise Words About Letter Writing)

This came to mind as I read Megan Marshall’s fascinating Slate article, “How to decipher authors’ handwriting” in which she addresses crossing among many other things. Highly recommended. Thanks to bookninja for the tip.


1 Comment

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One response to “Reading Those Old Handwritten Letters and Diaries

  1. This really is fascinating. I remember running across a reference to cross-writing in I believe one or more of the Little House books, and until right now never realized it meant exactly what it sounded like it meant.


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