Famous Authors And Their Handwriting

The study of handwriting, known as graphology, has a long history dating back to the 17th century. The analysis of handwriting for personality assessment emerged in France and Italy in the late 1700s (Forensic Graphology: Assessment of Personality, https://medcraveonline.com/FRCIJ/forensic-graphology-assessment-of-personality.html). By the 19th century, graphology had spread to Britain and Germany as a technique for personality evaluation. Experts like the Victorian artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti became known for analyzing handwriting (The History of Graphology, https://www.britishgraphology.org/about-british-institute-of-graphologists/the-history-of-graphology/).

Today, graphology is used in criminal, forensic, and clinical investigations to assess personality traits and in some countries for recruitment purposes. Research has investigated connections between handwriting features (like slant, size, spacing) and personality characteristics. However, graphology remains controversial as a pseudoscience in some scientific circles.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald is known for his novels depicting the flamboyance and excess of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, including The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald’s handwriting reflected his meticulous and perfectionist nature. His writing was small, neat and upright, showing the care he took with his literary works (https://wwd.com/eye/lifestyle/the-great-gatsby-f-scott-fitzgeralds-own-handwriting-11059431/). Even as a young child, Fitzgerald’s handwriting was orderly and proper. As he aged, his handwriting evolved to become more stylized yet retained its tidy and controlled aesthetic (https://www.openculture.com/2012/09/the_evolution_of_f_scott_fitzgeralds_signature_from_5_years_old_to_21.html). This reflected the care and precision Fitzgerald devoted to his craft of writing.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway is known for his spare, minimalist prose style as well as his adventurous lifestyle. His handwriting reflected this bold spirit. Hemingway’s handwriting was described as being large and bold, taking up ample space on the page (Source). He wrote many of his early drafts longhand, believing that the process of then typing up these handwritten pages allowed him to revise and polish his work. Hemingway’s sweeping, oversized script mirrors the expansive scope of his travels and experiences. His handwriting seems to sprawl confidently across the page just as Hemingway himself led a sprawling, adventurous life across continents. The boldness of his handwriting reflects the confident, declarative nature of his writing style. Much like his iconic, punchy prose, Hemingway’s handwriting makes a statement.

Mark Twain

Mark Twain, the famous American author behind classics like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, had notoriously terrible handwriting. His scrawl was described as “that wandering and fenceless animal, the signature of Mark Twain”[1]. Twain’s messy, looping cursive reflected his humorous and satirical writing style. The loose, expressive letters matched his witty personality and fondness for exaggeration. Unlike more proper Victorian handwriting, Twain’s reflected his background growing up along the Mississippi River. His handwriting style was described as “wandering”, much like the meandering course of the river he loved[1]. Just as Twain used humor and satire to expose flaws in society, his handwriting seemed designed to expose the rigid rules of penmanship.

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was known for her avant-garde fiction and pioneering stream-of-consciousness narrative style. Her handwriting reflected her creative and imaginative approach to writing. According to research on Woolf’s letters (https://research.reading.ac.uk/aroomofourown/creating-woolfs-handwriting/), her handwriting was slanted and flowing, with unique styling for each letter. The fluidity of her script matched the lyrical quality of her prose. Analysis of Woolf’s handwriting (http://www.graphology.it/index.html?p=134.html) also noted her exceptional mental and emotional qualities including sensitivity, intuition, and originality. Her expressive penmanship reflected her thoughtful approach to language and evocative depictions of character consciousness.

Leo Tolstoy

Leo Tolstoy’s handwriting provides a fascinating glimpse into the complex personality of this legendary Russian author. As described in an article on LitKicks, “Tolstoy Kept It Brief,” Tolstoy’s handwriting was inconsistent and frequently changed over the course of his life. This reflects how Tolstoy himself went through many ideological and spiritual transformations during his literary career. At some points, his handwriting was hurried and sloppy, reflecting chaotic times in his life. Other times it was neat, orderly and elegant, demonstrating Tolstoy’s desire for control and discipline. Tolstoy’s handwriting evolves along with his work – from the sweeping epic style of “War and Peace” to the introspective, philosophical stories like “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.” Just as his prose style changed, so did the strokes of his pen. Ultimately, the many fluctuations in Tolstoy’s handwriting mirror the restless, constantly evolving spirit of this great author.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The acclaimed Russian author Fyodor Dostoyevsky was known for his intense psychological insights and complex plots and characters. His handwriting reflected the depth and intensity of his inner world. According to one analysis, Dostoyevsky’s cramped, angular style of handwriting “conveys the author’s tortured psyche” (Source). The hurried strokes and closely packed letters suggest the fervor with which Dostoyevsky composed his literary works. He was prone to scribbling down ideas and sketches in the margins of his manuscripts, almost as if he was overflowing with imaginative thoughts (Source). Dostoyevsky’s handwriting captures his restless genius and reflects the psychological depth of his greatest works.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s handwriting reveals key aspects of her personality and writing style. According to handwriting analysis from https://strengthandsong.wordpress.com/2010/12/03/handwriting-analysis-of-jane-austen/, Austen had highly expressive and neat cursive penmanship. Her letters were small yet consistent in size and slant, reflecting her composed storytelling and precision with language.

As described by https://www.jasna-orswwa.org/home/analyzing-jane-austens-handwriting, Austen’s tidy, upright handwriting indicates she was orderly, controlled, and introspective. The uniformity of her script aligns with the refined style and restrained tone of her novels. Overall, Austen’s graceful, methodical handwriting perfectly mirrors the nuanced social commentary and satire that defined her iconic literary voice.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens is known for his imaginative and descriptive novels such as Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and Great Expectations. His messy, irregular handwriting reflected his embellished, vivid writing style. According to a handwriting analysis report, Dickens’ varied letter sizes and uneven baseline indicated “his extremely creative mind and his dramatic flair for expressing ideas and events”. The creative flourishes in his handwriting aligned with the rich imagery and elaborate characters in his novels.


In summary, examining the handwriting of famous authors provides fascinating insights into their personalities, working styles, and quirks. Although handwriting analysis should not be considered an exact science, experts have identified common traits and patterns that reveal aspects of an author’s inner world.

For example, Fitzgerald’s sloppy and uneven script reflects his chaotic lifestyle and struggles with alcoholism. Hemingway’s strong, minimalist strokes mirror the terse prose style he pioneered. The embellished fancy scripts of Dickens and Woolf expose their romantic sensibilities and active imaginations. The slanted, forward-moving writing of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky conveys the intensity and philosophical focus that characterizes Russian literature.

While an author’s handwriting does not definitively explain or account for their literary genius, it provides clues about the connection between the inner self and outer expression. Careful analysis by trained specialists can uncover insights beyond what the writing alone conveys. Examining these masters of the written word from a graphic perspective allows us to appreciate the deep link between hand and mind in the creative process.

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