Calligraphy experts pen beginner’s book

Jill Hembling and Kirsten Burke have released a new book with the help of Studio Press
Jill Hembling and Kirsten Burke have released a new book with the help of Studio Press

Twenty years into its craft, a calligraphy company from Birdham is taking advantage of a nostalgia for pen and paper to release its first ever book with the help of an Apuldram publisher.

Kirsten Burke’s ‘Secrets of Modern Calligraphy’ is designed to help beginners get to grips with the basics of calligraphy, from practical tips and quick response (QR) codes to demonstration videos.

Kirsten’s business partner and managing director Jill Hembling said the digital age was giving way to a ‘renaissance’ in paper and pre-orders for the book, released today by Studio Press, had already reached 35,000 copies.

She said: “People didn’t know what calligraphy was.

“The flip side of computers was that people understood what fonts were, what lettering was about.

“Now that people have so much more of an awareness of design and social media, we’ve never been so busy.”

Among the company’s recent work has been a painstaking replica of Guy Fawkes’ confession for the filming of the BBC’s three-part Gunpowder Plot series.

The series required five copies of the second page without the signature so it could be added by an actor, but also the first page, for which there was no transcription.

Jill said: “We were sent a photocopy from the National Archive and the copy had to be as identical as possible.

“I imagine it’ll be in the last episode.

“There wasn’t a transcription of the first page, so we had to work out what the page actually said, we had to put our own interpretation on the Old English and make sense of it.

“We’ve never had to do anything like that.”

Kirsten Burke’s ‘Secrets of Modern Calligraphy’ is to be sold alongside a starter kit of pens and nibs. Outlets are set to include Waterstone’s, WHSmith and Sainsbury’s.

Find out more at