Neat Exercise Books Are For Wimps (& The Bronte Sisters)

There’s an interesting slideshow of 14 moments of literary genius over at The Huffington Post. [thanks Poetry Foundation]. Snapshots of the manuscripts of Shakespeare, Dickens, Woolf, Chaucer and the like are on show. There’s something rather magical about seeing drafts of classics I think.

On a more teacherly note, though, they made me think of Autumn terms and those stationery fetishists’ dreams of clean, unsullied exercise books ready to be covered in clearly ruled margins, neatly labelled diagrams and tidily underlined headings. Nothing wrong with being tidy, of course but (thankfully) here is some evidence it’s not a priority. What is amusing appalling is the standard of handwriting and presentation. Blake is all over the place, but then you might expect that. Dickens is scratchy and Shakespeare’s full of crossings out. Worst, possibly, is Oscar Wilde.

Probably end up in prison.

Thank heavens for the Bronte Sisters. Neat and tidy as always, showing a real pride in their work.

(And before people roleroll their eyes and say things like “well girls are always neater”, Virginia Woolf has a terrible slant to her lines and Jane Austen is splotchy at best and Johnathan Swift is really very impressive.)

Good to have some perspective.