First Steps of Graphology

First Steps of Graphology

The history of graphology dates back to ancient times.

Ancient philosophers, writers and emperors paid attention to handwriting. Confucius warned: «Beware of a man whose writing sways like a reed in the wind». A Roman historian whose works described daily lives of emperors, Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus, analysed the script of the Emperor Augustus and wrote: «He does not separate his words, not carry over to the next line any excess letters», mentioning how economical the emperor was.

The handwriting was talked about by Aristotle, Theophrastus, the Greek writer Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the Emperor Nero who wrote in his letters: «I am afraid of this man, because his handwriting shows what he has — the treacherous nature».

The first book on the subject of handwriting was published in 1622. The author is Camillo Baldo, an Italian doctor and a professor at the University of Bologna. The book’s name is «How to recognise from a letter the nature and quality of a writer», and an epigraph is a saying «We recognise a lion by his claw». And although the book was translated into Latin, it wasn’t a big success.

However, with the development of natural sciences and interest to studying human nature and its traits, the interest to analyse handwriting appeared, too.

A lot of major figures of the 19th century tried to identify a personality through a person’s handwriting: an English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, a writer Edgar Allan Poe, a German philosopher Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe wrote: «There is no doubt that handwriting reflects the personality and mind of a person and that it can at least give an idea about one’s feelings and actions».

In the middle of the 19th century, the subject attracted interest of a French abbot Flandrin. He organised a group that analysed handwritings of people of different occupations and interests. Flandrin’s student, abbot Jean Hippolyte Michon, continued the studies. He is an acknowledged founder of modern graphology.

In 1871, Jean Hippolyte Michon classified his studies and wrote a work—System of Graphology. He took and compared such elements of handwriting as strokes, letters, words and lines, trying to find similar signs in them. Each sign meant a certain personality trait, and the lack of it showed the opposite trait. Nowadays, it is only partially correct, but the «System of Graphology» was the basis for the modern science.