Handwriting manuals, also known as copy-books, emerged out of Italy and the Low Countries in the first third of the sixteenth century and spread to Germany, France, Spain, and England within decades. These printed pamphlets, usually oblong, contained illustrated specimens of elaborate and ordinary scripts, and later also included letterpress-printed instructions for “faire writing,” thus enabling “common people” to learn to write without the need for in-person instruction.
In this two-part illustrated talk, Thadani will first introduce the genre of writing-books, pointing to the roles that illustration technologies, the potential of distance learning, and smart promotion and marketing played in teaching handwriting and making it increasingly popular even in the age of print.
Second, she will look at specific writing-masters for whom establishing authorship and authority was crucial, and outline how they touted their skills and superiority. The question of “authority” is a vexed one in this field. Did it matter by whose method one learned to write if, ultimately, the most important criterion for viable writing was legibility? How much could one master’s instructions differ from another’s? To answer this question, Thadani takes as examples a few anonymous writing-books, all of which seem to have borrowed content from the works of named authors, to ask whether anonymous instruction was any better or worse than instruction from a named source.
Simran Thadani received her Ph.D. in English, with a focus on book history and special collections, from the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Her dissertation, based in extensive archival research, is the first book-length study of English writing-books, 1570-1763. She is particularly interested in the bibliographical and technological history of the genre, and in questions of authorship/anonymity, aesthetics, and distance learning as debated by writing-masters of the period. She has over twenty years’ experience as a calligrapher.
Honoring Rebecca Solnit for her contributions to western history and Johanna Drucker for her contributions to the book arts. More about the Oscar Lewis Awards and this year’s recipients may be found here. Free and open to the public. RSVP to email@example.com
A celebration of work by students enrolled in the book art programs at Academy of Art University, California College of the Arts, Mills College, and San Francisco Art Institute, with presentations by the students.
During this informal gathering in the library, view the Club’s 1972 publication, California as an Island. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
In this illustrated talk, historian Leonard Marcus will illuminate the trail-blazing contribution of Victorian illustrator Randolph Caldecott to the art of the picture book, and trace Caldecott’s influence on subsequent masters of the genre, including Beatrix Potter, Robert McCloskey, and Maurice Sendak. A question-and-answer period and book signing to follow.
Leonard Marcus is one of the children’s book world’s leading historians and critics. He is the author of over twenty critically acclaimed books including Dear Genius; Minders of Make-Believe; Show Me a Story!; and Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing; and is the editor of Maurice Sendak: A Celebration of the Artist and His Work. Leonard reviews children’s books for The New York Times Book Review, writes a column for The Horn Book, and lectures around the world. He is a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum and is the curator of The New York Public Library’s landmark exhibition, “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter.”
Photograph of Leonard Marcus by Elena Seibert.
Reading: 5-6 pm
Reception: 5-7 pm
More information coming soon!
An evening of readings and discussion about the life and work of Don Carpenter
With Peter Coyote, Curt Gentry, Louis B. Jones, Anne Lamott, and Jane Vandenburgh
Hosted by Peter Maravelis/City Lights Books at The Book Club of California
Don Carpenter was a close friend of many San Francisco writers, but his closest friendship was with Richard Brautigan, and when Brautigan killed himself, Carpenter tried for some time to write a biography of his remarkable, deeply troubled friend. He finally abandoned that in favor of writing a novel. Fridays at Enrico’s is the story of four writers living in Northern California and Portland during the early, heady days of the Beat scene, a time of youth and opportunity. This story mixes the excitement of beginning with the melancholy of ambition, often thwarted and never satisfied. Loss of innocence is only the first price you pay. These are people, men and women, tender with expectation, at risk and in love. Carpenter also carefully draws a portrait of these two remarkable places, San Francisco and Portland, in the ’50s and early ‘60s, when writers and bohemians were busy creating the groundwork for what came to be the counterculture.
Don Carpenter was born in Berkeley in 1932. Raised in Portland, he enlisted in the air force and returned to the Bay Area at the end of his service. Carpenter was closely involved in the Bay area literary scene, and could often be found in the bars and coffee shops of North Beach with fellow writers like Evan S. Connell Jr., Curt Gentry and Richard Brautigan.He published 10 novels during his lifetime, including A Hard Rain Falling, which George Pelecanos called “a masterpiece,” and A Couple of Comedians, which is thought by some the best novel about Hollywood ever written. Don also had a successful career as a screenwriter, living for long periods in Hollywood where he wrote the movie “Pay Day” (1972).After years of deteriorating health, Don Carpenter committed suicide in Mill Valley in 1995. At the time of his death he was at work on the novel Fridays at Enrico’s. Nearly twenty years later Counterpoint Press is publishing this long awaited work.
About the panelists:
Peter Coyote is an ordained practitioner of Zen Buddhism, activist, and actor. He began his work in street theater and political organizing in San Francisco. In addition to acting in 120 films, Coyote has won an Emmy for narrating the award-winning documentary Pacific Century, and he has cowritten, directed, and performed in the play Olive Pits, which won The Mime Troupe an Obie Award. He is also the author of the memoir Sleeping Where I Fall. Coyote lives in Mill Valley, California.
Anne Lamott is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Grace (Eventually), Plan B, Traveling Mercies, and Operating Instructions, as well as seven novels, including Hard Laughter and Joe Jones. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Jane Vandenburgh is the award-winning author of two novels, Failure to Zigzag and The Physics of Sunset, as well as Architecture of the Novel, A Writer’s Handbook, The Wrong Dog Dream, and The Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century, A Memoir. She has taught writing and literature at U. C. Davis, the George Washington University, and, most recently, at Saint Mary’s College in Moraga, California.
Louis B. Jones is the author of the novels Radiance and Innocence, both published by Counterpoint Press. His novels Ordinary Money, Particles and Luck, and California’s Over, are all New York Times Notable Books,
Curt Gentry is an American writer best known for his work co-writing Helter Skelter with Vincent Bugliosi, which detailed the Charles Manson murders and won the 1975 Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for Best Fact Crime book.
Currently seeking panel & lecture proposals! Click here for more information.