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A Brief History of Graphology

by admin on January 3, 2011

‘Feeling for handwritings, and love of them arise quite
spontaneously. At a particular moment in life,
their graphic forms are suddenly illuminated
in the searchlight of our consciousness’

(Max Pulver – 1931)


Socrates and Aristotle – ‘I can tell a man by his hand’ – Socrates. Aristotle recorded all Socrates’ speeches during his lifetime


Chinese Emperors and Courts used graphology to chose their Concubines; Priests; Politicians and Emissaries


Camillo Baldi – Professor of Philosophy and Medicine – Bologna University – Italy : wrote the first known Treatise on the subject and this has formed a base upon which modern graphology has been researched and developed. Bologna and Urbino Universities still maintain a Chair teaching Graphology


Goethe – was intrigued by the observations of Grohman, and together with his friend and colleague Lavater researched the subject. Lavater later observed ‘I find an admirable analogy between the speech, the walk and the writing of the majority of people’


Abbe Flandrin and Jean-Hippolyte Michon together founded a school for the interpretation of handwriting and for over thirty years collected thousands of examples of handwriting and signatures and recorded every single element corresponding to a character trait. He was followed by Jean Crepieux-Jamin who revised and reclassified and regrouped the signs and these are still used today. His book L’Ecriture et le Charactere which is included in the works of the Bibliotheque de Philosophie Contemporaine. He wrote ten books altogether on the subject.


Graphology is still being developed and researched today and has been throughout the 20th Century by such well known names as : Freud; Jung; Jacoby; Eynsyck; Klein; Hilliger; Nezos; Karohs; Yalon and Seifer to name but a few.

There are a few latter day detractors who are very voluble but who have little indepth knowledge or experience of graphology as practiced by the professional graphologist. It is, one may believe, a case of ‘Methinks that they protesteth too much’. Amongst the most vociferous are : – Beyerstein & Beyerstein – USA and Professor Christopher French – you can read their opinions in ‘The Skeptic’ magazine.

They do, perhaps, have good reason to have ‘fun’ at the expense of professional graphologists. Until 1983 in the UK there was no governing body for the profession, nor was their a set syllabus and examination in the subject. However, the French, Swiss, German and Italians had had their own Professional Institutes for more than four centuries, certainly in Bologna since around 1600.

However, during the late 1920’s an Englishman, Francis Timberly Hilliger, met with a Doctor Alfred Singer (German) who was living in or near his home town of Woking in Surrey and began a friendship during which time Dr. Singer taught him all he knew about Graphology* and then in the 1930’s he met with Hans Jacoby an eminent German Graphologist who had fled the Nazis together with his wife Marianne (a psychologist) due to the fact that he had unwittingly analysed the handwriting of Himmler – it was certainly time to leave, and quickly. Marianne and Hans had been pupils of Freud (Marianne) and Jung (Hans) and both were remarkable graphologists. Hilliger’s love and devotion to Graphology developed and grew from then.

Hilliger began practising and teaching Graphology in the late 1940s. He was one of the first Graphologists to be accepted as an expert witness in the British Courts of Justice. His ability to assess accurately and in great detail character of people and their abilities was without precedent in the UK. He taught graphology both privately and held evening classes in local schools. He was in demand as a speaker throughout the country to any and everybody who was interested in the subject.

Graphology – how it all began for me

It was through a speaking engagement of Hilliger’s at the Wigmore Hall, London in the late 1970’s that I met Hilliger – I just happened to read the billboard outside on my way home from work in Manchester Square when I espied ‘Lecture – Handwriting and your Character’ – for some reason, perhaps I had little to do that evening, it caught my imagination and I went in. To say I was enthralled hardly explains the empathy and excitement this man’s absolute commitment and love for his subject aroused in me. At the end of the lecture – I crept round to the Green Room to say how much I enjoyed listening to him and experiencing his love for his subject, and where could I learn more about Graphology. It was then that he agreed to take me as a pupil – and I, too, began my love affair with handwriting and graphology.

In 1978 a small group of Hilliger’s pupils and friends encouraged and worked with him to found the British Institute of Graphologists, which held its inaugural meeting in October 1983. By the end of the 1980s the Institute had put in place an Education Board and agreed a syllabus and examination to ensure that there was a high standard set for those who wished to learn and practice as Graphologists in the UK, professionally. Unfortunately Hilliger died (December 1986) before the Institute had laid down the benchmarks for tutors and an internationally recognised accreditation for Graphology

Every two years the Institute holds an International Symposium with eminent graphologists as speakers from all over the world. Next year, 2011, will see the 10th Symposium take place in October at the Bellhouse Hotel, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.

There are two schools of Graphology in the UK – the ‘Hilliger’ School and the ‘French’ School set up by Renna Nezos in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Margaret D White MBIG{dip]FRSA
October 2010.

* Singer’s books incorporated in – ‘A Manual of Graphology’ : was republished in 1986 by Treasure Press. ISBN 1 85051 166 7. Available through BIG.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Sarah Wilson January 27, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Fascinating and helpful reading – Thank you

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