Frances Hughes, University of Cambridge
Samuel Pepys’ calligraphy collection comprises numerous textual fragments pasted and bound into three volumes, which together document a history of handwriting and textual forms. The volumes should be understood in relation to a concentrated circle of collectors who were also gathering fragments of text and lettering from around the mid-1690s and into the early years of the eighteenth century, including John Bagford, Humfrey Wanley and Hans Sloane. This paper will explore the ways in which the calligraphy volumes evidence a deep and multifaceted interest in visual criticism trained on the written word within Pepys’ social and intellectual milieu. By untangling knotwork flourishes, enjoying the mimetic competition between printed and hand-drawn graphics, or examining textual micrographic samples, calligraphic lines and notational marks offered educated gentlemen a body of material on which they could practise and hone communal, comparative and repeatable modes of critical observation.