Alphabet: The Story of Writing

Alphabet: The Story of Writing is a documentary series from 1980 presenting a historical overview of the alphabet.

Getting a historical overview of writing means we have to travel back to the start of writing which was during the Stone Age 35, 000 years ago. Here we’ll investigate the cave paintings of primitive man.

This is followed by ancient history and Egyptians’ hieroglyphics, continued on in the classical antiquity where we explore the stylus and wax tablets of the Romans, and finally, more mechanical (and easier) ways of writing from the start of the printing press in 1440.

Episode 1

Episode 1

The first episode covers how the letters were formed. Travelling back to ancient Egypt where the hieroglyphics and cuneiform originated, Donald Jackson follows the process that made letters become the easiest form of writing. He makes reed pens and quill pens and demonstrates their influence on letter forms.

Episode 2

Episode 2

Episode two features fourteenth- and fifteenth-century manuscript books , the Gothic script and the Italic (chancery) script . Furthermore, we’ll explore the printing press where we’ll try printing on an iron hand press.

The printing press led to an easier way of copying books, leading to an explosion of literature and easily sharing ideas.

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Alphabet: The Story of Writing
  • Info
  • Release date1980
  • Full runtime2 episodes, 1 hour each
  • PresenterDonald Jackson
  • NarratorSusannah York
  • Director and ProducerJeremy Bennett
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