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Since 1st March, 1999
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Churchill the 'pig-headed' and Marx the 'difficult'
(From top) Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill and Karl Marx: Arrogant, pig-headed and difficult

London, Dec. 5: Charles Dickens was arrogant, Winston Churchill was pig-headed and Karl Marx a difficult man who refused to listen in an argument, an analysis of the handwriting of historical figures has revealed.

Graphologists have studied the writing of politicians, monarchs and philosophers in documents exhibited for the first time by The National Archives.

These include the 1874 naturalisation papers of Karl Marx, 16th-century papers relating to the divorce of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon and signed telegrams from Winston Churchill to the American President Harry Truman in the 1940s.

According to the analysis, Churchill's small, hasty script demonstrates the war-time Prime Minister's wilfulness and determination not to live by the rules.

Charles Dickens, the 19th- century author of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist, displayed his self-importance with his large signature underlined with a flourish.

Karl Marx, the philosopher and social scientist who co-wrote The Communist Manifesto in 1848, had a tendency to run his words together ' evidence of his determination to go his own way and not to listen to anyone else's opinion, according to graphologists.

Other handwriting samples corroborated what is already known about historical figures. Henry VIII's bold, careless script was evidence of his attention-seeking nature and moodiness.

His daughter Elizabeth I, on the other hand, revealed herself to be 'independent, detail-conscious and goal-oriented'. The writing was analysed by measuring pressure, size, slant, spacing, baseline and connection. Heavy pressure, akin to emphasis in speech, reflects purpose, anger or impatience.

Large writing, like volume in speech, demonstrates the desire to attract attention, while slanted writing indicates enthusiasm or emotion. Wide spaces between words shows an author who prefers to isolate themselves from their environment, while mostly joined up writing implies logic, single-mindedness and diligence.

The ability to write in a straight line reveals the writer's capacity to maintain an equilibrium. An erratic baseline implies mood changes and flightiness. The analysts were not told whose handwriting they were looking at.

Diane Simpson, a handwriting consultant who carried out the research for The National Archives, said that graphology brought history to life.

'Churchill was fascinating because his script was very like a sample of Cleopatra's writing: small, fast and not very legible,' she said.

'It is the written equivalent of someone lowering their voice so that the listener has to strain to hear ' almost as if they are saying 'let them work at it if they want to know what I'm saying'. It's a rebellious, bloody-minded way of writing.

'Marx was also interesting because he signed off his naturalisation papers as 'Carl', possibly to make his name seem less foreign. He comes across as a judgmental, difficult person who liked to get his own way.

'All handwriting is a compromise between speed of thought and slowness of the hand and it is how individuals address this compromise by reinterpreting the rules of writing that provides the most fruitful grounds for analysis.'

The full set of original documents is to go on display from tomorrow at The National Archives in Kew, south-west London, as part of an exhibition called Movers and Shakers: Geoffrey Chaucer to Elton John.

Sue Laurence, the curator, said: 'The exhibition is a chance for visitors to learn about British history and the people that shaped it, using the documents, manuscripts and artefacts they left in our care.

'The analysis of handwriting provides an interesting insight into the movers and the shakers.'

Not all historians were impressed by the insights, however. Andrew Roberts, the author of Hitler and Churchill: Secrets of Leadership, dismissed the analysis as 'crystal ball gazing into the past'.

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