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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: July ::
Re: A Typographical Query
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1400  Friday, 14 July 2000.

[1]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 09:28:15 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1393 A Typographical Query

[2]     From:   Ward Elliott <
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        Date:   Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 14:38:34
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1393 A Typographical Query


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 09:28:15 -0500
Subject: 11.1393 A Typographical Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1393 A Typographical Query

Mary-Anne King wrote:

> I am a typographer and am thinking about designing a typeface from
> Shakespeare's handwriting. There is a font out there already but it's
> way to pretty to be the one I understand is Shakespeare's.
>
> I believe that the only sample of his writing is the signature on his
> will.  Does anybody know if this true or not? And if it is not, do you
> know where I can find any other samples?

There are actually six uncontested signatures of Shakespeare -- three on
the will, two on the Blackfriars Gatehouse documents from 1613, and one
from his deposition in the Bellott-Mountjoy suit (1612).  The words "By
me" on the last page of the will are also in Shakespeare's hand.  In
addition, there is a signature on a copy of William Lambarde's
*Archaionomia* which many scholars now accept as Shakespeare's.  The
biggest but most controversial sample of Shakespeare's handwriting,
though, is Hand D in the manuscript play *Sir Thomas More*, which many
people (including me) believe to be Shakespeare's handwriting.  You can
find facsimiles of the six undisputed signatures and Hand D in many
biographies of Shakespeare, of which the best is probably Samuel
Schoenbaum's *William Shakespeare: A Documentary Life*.

One problem in making a typeface from Shakespeare's handwriting is that
he wrote in secretary hand, which is fairly different from modern
handwriting.  Even neatly-written secretary hand is often hard for
untrained readers to decipher.

Dave Kathman

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ward Elliott <
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Date:           Thursday, 13 Jul 2000 14:38:34 -0700 (Pacific Daylight Time)
Subject: 11.1393 A Typographical Query
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1393 A Typographical Query

See Charles Hamilton, _In Search of Shakespeare: A Reconnaissance into
the Poet's Life and Handwriting_, Harcourt Brace, 1985, and his
_Cardenio_, Glenbridge, 1994 for a noted graphoanalyst's discussion of
what handwriting is Shakespeare's and what is not.  Hamilton concluded
that Shakespeare wrote his own will and that he was both scribe and
author of _The Second Maiden's Tragedy_, which most authorities ascribe
to Middleton.  Rob Valenza's and my tests suggest that the Shakespeare
ascription looks highly implausible, and the Middleton much more
plausible (see our "Glass Slippers and 7-League Boots," _Shakespeare Q._
48:177, 184 (1997)).  But the handwriting of _The Second Maiden's
Tragedy_ looks so like Shakespeare's (see Hamilton's _Cardenio_, p. 139)
that Hamilton's scribe theory does not defy belief.  E.B. Everitt, "The
Young Shakespeare: Studies in Documentary Evidence," _Anglista_ 2:81
(1954), thought Sh. was the scribe for _Edward III_ and _Edmund
Ironside_, as well as _The Second Maiden's Tragedy_.  Eric Sams argues
that Sh was author, as well as transcriber, of _Edward III_ and _Edmund
Ironside_.  Our tests seem to rule out Sh. authorship for these also
(see our "And Then There Were None,"  _Computers and the Humanities_
30:191, 214), but not the possibility that he was the scribe.

Ward Elliott
 

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