Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and Other Typographical Curiosities (Hardback)
  • Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and Other Typographical Curiosities (Hardback)

Shady Characters: Ampersands, Interrobangs and Other Typographical Curiosities (Hardback)

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Hardback Published: 26/09/2013
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Keith Houston's entertaining book, inspired by his popular blog, 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, where he writes about the unusual stories behind some well-known - and some rather more outlandish - marks of punctuation.

Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
ISBN: 9781846146473

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“Suprisingly interesting”

It's amusing sometimes how something so dull sounding can actually be really interesting.

It would be tempting to lay the praise for this lovely book solely at the feet of Houston's engaging writing skills.... More

Hardback edition
27th October 2013
Helpful? Upvote 10

“A fascinating read”

Having enjoyed Simon Garfield's 'What's my type' which looked at the development of typefaces and font design, Keith Houston's book looks more closely at specific grammatical characters and... More

Hardback edition
8th December 2013
Helpful? Upvote 6

“Shady Characters”

(The following is deliberately written without punctuation before anyone complains!)
a book about the history of punctuation marks should not be interesting and it should not be funny but shady characters is both... More

Hardback edition
13th October 2013
Helpful? Upvote 6

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