The Practical Guide to Calligraphy - Rosemary Sassoon

Calligraphy Book Reviews

Some books hold up extremely well over time. We can still read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice centuries after it was written and adore the book from start to finish. Other books don't quite hold up as well. Unfortunately, Rosemary Sassoon's book The Practical Guide to Calligraphy falls into that second category.

It wasn't that long ago that full color printing costs were quite prohibitively high. So Sassoon decided to go with a two-tone printing for her calligraphy book. You get black and red. That's it. But while that might be fine for Pride and Prejudice, it's less great for a book that is trying to showcase images like this:

The Practical Guide to Calligraphy - Rosemary Sassoon

When the actual Book of Kells is a gloriously colorful document:

The Practical Guide to Calligraphy - Rosemary Sassoon

OK but how about the other half of the book? The half where it is a practical guide to help you do calligraphy?

Unfortunately the book is also less than great there.

It's a smallish format - 7" x 10" - so the examples for letters are fairly small. This is a full page meaning each letter shown is quite tiny, for you to see. She's having you do dual-pen writing so you can see how the two edges of the pen swoop and turn. But she provides only the most rudimentary instructions for stroke order and nothing about the shape.

The Practical Guide to Calligraphy - Rosemary Sassoon

And that's it. You don't get any other real help about forming letters, stroke order, or so on. And there aren't even that many different types of lettering shown. For the few others in the book, she just shows you a picture of the letters. You don't get any help at all about angle of the pen, movement of the pen, or anything.

The Practical Guide to Calligraphy - Rosemary Sassoon

With all the fantastic YouTube videos out there, and quite beautiful step-by-step books, there just isn't any reason to try to struggle through with this one.

I'll give it two stars for making a good effort for its time. But in our modern world I would definitely donate this to your local library, in case it's a "better than nothing at all" option for them.

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