Dickens on Writing

Sam Weller sat himself down on a box near the stove, and pulled out the sheet of gilt-edged letter-paper, and the hard-nibbed pen. Then looking carefully at the pen to see that there were no hairs in it, and dusting down the table, so that there might be no crumbs of bread under the paper, Sam tucked up the cuffs of his coat, squared his elbows, and composed himself to write.

To ladies and gentlemen who are not in the habit of devoting themselves practically to the science of penmanship, writing a letter is no very easy task; it being always considered necessary in such cases for the writer to recline his head on his left arm, so as to place his eyes as nearly as possible on a level with the paper, and, while glancing sideways at the letters he is constructing, to form with his tongue imaginary characters to correspond. These motions, although unquestionably of the greatest assistance to original composition, retard in some degree the progress of the writer…

Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers (1836)

2 thoughts on “Dickens on Writing

  1. Dear Ms. Gibson, Well spotted and thanks for bringing this Dickens passage to light in your blog. It took me a long time to come to Pickwick Papers but when I did it became my favorite Dickens book. One of my favorite lines from the book is Sam Weller’s father reply to his sons assertion that he had gained some weight: “vidth and visdom, Sammy, alvays grows together” I have used the line myself for obvious reasons! Anyway kudos for sharing the passage relevant to pens and handwriting.

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