samuel pepys diary


I discovered this interesting volume in the stacks while doing some research for my dissertation- a Sherlock Holmes book written entirely in Pitman Shorthand!

Pitman Shorthand was invented by Englishman Sir Isaac Pitman in 1837. It was one of a number of different shorthands that were developed over the centuries, in order to expedite the writing process. The earliest known shorthand comes from a 4th century BC Greek inscription, and many writers in many languages have used one form of shorthand or another pretty much continually up through the present day. Samuel Pepys even wrote his diary in a form of shorthand!

This book was written in what is called “Pitman New Era,” which is actually the second iteration of the script. While the book has no printed date, the use of the New Era script dates it to between 1922-1975, and given the style and look of the book, it was probably printed in the 1930s. A number of books were published in Pitman shorthand in order to give users something to practice reading- shelved next to this book were the works of Dickens in the same style. In 1975, the script was further improved to “Pitman 2000,” and this version is still used today, particularly by journalists and those in the medical field. So if you sometimes find yourself unable to read your doctor’s handwriting, their use of shorthand could be the reason why!