The Book Case is proud to welcome author (and handwriting analyst!) Sheila Lowe. Here, she examines several handwriting samples from famous authors and demonstrates that telling a person's profession by their handwriting is easier said than done.

How can you tell a person is an author by their handwriting?

This was the question posed to me when I offered to analyze the handwritings of some of the authors featured in BookPage (and I learned that authors are promised that they won't, in fact, be subject to analysis!).

As part of my work as a forensic handwriting expert, I've studied more than 10,000 handwriting samples from people who work in a wide spectrum of professions and industries, including publishing. Authors like Dean Koontz, Michael Connelly, Anne Perry, and Dominick Dunne are part of my collection. So when BookPage asked me what commonalities there might be in the handwriting of authors, I had plenty of samples to look at.

The fact is, everyone's handwriting reveals a great deal about their personality, social skills, thinking style, ego strengths, and much more. But it's not a matter of merely looking at how a person forms their loops or dots their i's. Handwriting contains thousands of variables, and the experiences the writer has accumulated throughout a lifetime and their response to them creates a distinct pattern in the spatial arrangement of the writing on the page, the way the letters are formed, and the rhythm and movement of the writing.

Emily Dickinson had handwriting that is unusual in its excessive simplification, which reveals a problem with her ego. The extremely wide spaces between letters and words indicate her sense of, and need for, isolation.

Oscar Wilde's writing pattern is similar to Dickinson's in that the spacing, though not as extreme. So, we see these two authors had a strong need for personal space that dominated all aspects of their lives.

One of my favorite handwriting samples came in a letter from Dean Koontz, who kindly replied to a letter of mine. In his sample, the letters, words, and lines are quite close together, but not so close that the lower loops fall down and interfere with the next line (which would mean that he had trouble keeping things in their proper place). The writing looks warm and friendly but self-disciplined (the writer whose books have sold more than a half-billion copies would need to be self-disciplined!).

Dominick Dunne's handwriting is highly stylized, indicating someone who is concerned with image. It also has a left slant, which says he doesn't easily get close to people.

So we can see that despite some common characteristics, these authors have real differences, personality-wise, which makes sense. There is one thing they all have in common, though: their handwritings look nothing like the copybook model they were taught in school, and that means they each possess the characteristics of creativity, artistry, originality.

So coming back to the question, how do you tell who is an author by their handwriting? The answer is, you can't. Because each person is an individual with their own set of experiences and responses, like fingerprints, every handwriting is unique. There isn't just one type of author, so there isn't one type of author handwriting. But if the handwriting is creative, original, and expressive, it might have been done by an author. Or an artist. Or a photographer. Or...well, you get the picture.

Sheila Lowe is the author of the Forensic Handwriting Mysteries series, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Handwriting Analysis, and Handwriting of the Famous & Infamous. Her latest Claudia Rose mystery, Dead Write, is on sale this week.

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