Shady Characters

Shady Characters : Ampersands, Interrobangs and Other Typographical Curiosities

By (author) Keith Houston

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Keith Houston's entertaining book, inspired by his popular blog shadycharacters.co.uk, tells the unexpected stories of some unusual, and familiar, typographical marks and reveals a fascinating history of writing. Every character we write or type is a link to the past, and in today's printed, electronic and scrawled handwriting their history stares right back at us. This book charts the lives of some of the most intriguing examples, like how the pilcrow went from its noble origins in ancient Greece to near obsolescence, only to be revived again in word processing software. Each character reflects the bust and boom endured by punctuation with each new technological innovation and together they form a rich history of written communication. "Engaging typographical journeys ...Houston brings to life a history of ingenuity and imagination". (The Times). "Entertaining, informative, a must-read. If ever a book deserved its hardbacked, reverse-embossed, lavishly illustrated, thick white heavy paper incarnation, and a place on an actual bookshelf, it is Shady Characters". (Guardian). "Houston brings considerable wit to the 5,000-year-old enigma of how we attempt to communicate our thoughts through visible signs ...Shady Characters might make you look at books - in print or online - in an entirely new way' Nature 'Refreshing ...the stories he uncovers along the way are fascinating". (Telegraph). "Ventures into the previously untrodden history of punctuation marks ...scholarly, highly readable". (Spectator). Keith Houston is the founder of ShadyCharacters.co.uk, where he writes about the unusual stories behind some well-known - and some rather more outlandish - marks of punctuation.

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  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 140 x 218 x 34mm | 679.99g
  • 26 Sep 2013
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • Particular Books
  • London
  • English
  • illustrations (black and white)
  • 184614647X
  • 9781846146473
  • 66,489

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Author Information

Keith Houston started writing about the stories behind different marks of punctuation back in 2008 and soon discovered that they wove a fascinating trail across the parallel histories of language and typography. He is the founder of ShadyCharacters.co.uk where he brings these typographic raconteurs into the light of day.

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Review quote

Superb -- Mark Forsyth author of The Etymologicon Entertaining, informative, a must-read. If ever a book deserved its hardbacked, reverse-embossed, lavishly illustrated, thick white heavy paper incarnation, and a place on an actual bookshelf, it is Shady Characters. Guardian Engaging typographical journeys ... Houston brings to life a history of ingenuity and imagination The Times Houston brings considerable wit to the 5,000-year-old enigma of how we attempt to communicate our thoughts through visible signs ... Shady Characters might make you look at books - in print or online - in an entirely new way Nature Shady Characters ventures into the previously untrodden history of punctuation marks ... scholarly, highly readable Spectator Refreshing ... the stories he uncovers along the way are fascinating Telegraph

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