Historical Figures & Their Favourite Pens - Part 2

Get Inspired by the Pens of Great Writers and Historical Figures.

After delving into the world of famous writers and their cherished pens in our previous article, we couldn't resist bringing you some more inspirational writers and their weapons of choice.  In this second instalment, we explore the pens that became extensions of the hands of literary giants, allowing them to weave their masterpieces with elegance and precision. Last month’s article entered the worlds of Steinbeck, Gaiman, Twain, Thomas, and de Beauvoir and the fabulous writing tools that laid their incredible minds to history. If you missed it, you can find it here. Let’s delve deeper into the instruments that some of the greatest literary minds have relied on to create their masterpieces. Be prepared to be inspired and discover the pens that fueled their creativity!

Maya Angelou: Waterman Hémisphère

 “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Image Credit: Portrait photograph of Maya Angelou by Henry Monroe from the 1969 first-edition dust jacket of 'I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings'

Born Marguerite Annie Johnson, Maya Angelou got the nickname from her older brother who would refer to her as ‘My-a Sister’. Credited with seven autobiographies, three books of essays, multiple books of poetry and a number of plays, movies and tv shows spanning a 5 decade period, Maya Angelou is remembered as an astonishing talent, poet, civil rights activist and memoirist. With dozens of awards received and over 50 honorary degrees, Maya Angelou is a celebrated American Writer of note and is probably best remembered (outside of her writing) for her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement and her work with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. 

Maya Angelou's works were a tapestry of emotions, experiences, and reflections. They were a mirror that reflected the harsh realities of racism, the complexities of identity, the importance of family, and the transformative power of travel. Her books, such as ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and ‘The Heart of a Woman,’ have become literary classics, widely studied in schools and universities worldwide. Despite the universal acclaim and recognition her works received, Maya Angelou faced opposition and attempts to ban her books from some U.S. libraries. Why? Because her words were unapologetically honest, challenging the status quo and exposing the deep-rooted racism that still plagued society. She fearlessly tackled taboo subjects, forcing readers to confront uncomfortable truths.

According to Goodreads members, the most popular Maya Angelou books are "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" and "Letter to My Daughter."Image Credit: Amazon; Alyssa Powell/Insider

Racism, identity, family, and travel were recurring themes in Maya Angelou's works. She delved deep into the wounds inflicted by racism, exposing the scars that society tried to hide. Through her own journey of self-discovery, she explored the complexities of identity, celebrating the beauty of Blackness. Family, both biological and chosen, played a pivotal role in her narratives, highlighting the importance of love and support. And travel, whether physical or metaphorical, became a metaphor for growth, liberation, and the pursuit of freedom.

Maya Angelou  found her muse in the delicate and graceful strokes of the Waterman  Hémisphère. This exquisite pen, with its slender profile and smooth ink flow, became the instrument through which Angelou's words danced across the page, evoking powerful emotions and painting vivid pictures. Just as Angelou's poetry and prose continue to inspire generations, the Waterman  Hémisphère has become a symbol of her unwavering spirit and ability to rise above adversity.

Waterman Hémisphère Fountain Pen - Deluxe Rose Wave

The Waterman Hémisphère is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, designed to embody elegance and sophistication. Its slender profile, reminiscent of a ballerina's graceful figure, exudes a sense of poise and refinement. The pen's smooth ink flow, akin to the fluid movements of a dancer, allows words to glide effortlessly onto the page, creating a symphony of literary art.

Waterman Hémisphère Fountain Pen - Coral Pink

Just as Maya Angelou's words had the power to stir the soul, the Waterman  Hémisphère has the ability to evoke deep emotions. With each stroke of the pen, the ink flows seamlessly, creating a tactile experience that engages the senses. The weight of the pen in one's hand, the gentle click of the cap, and the smooth glide of the nib all contribute to a sensory journey that enhances the act of writing.

Maya Angelou's words continue to resonate with readers around the world, leaving an indelible mark on the literary landscape. Similarly, the Waterman  Hémisphère has stood the test of time, becoming a timeless classic that transcends trends and fads. Just as Angelou's words have the power to transport readers to different worlds, the Waterman Hemisphere  Hémisphère writers to a realm of creativity and inspiration.

Stephen King: Waterman Hémisphère Fountain Pen

“The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

Image Credit: https://stephenking.com/the-author/

From the ‘caged bird’ to the ‘King of horror!’  Another writer devoted to the Waterman Hémisphère was Stephen King - best known for ‘Carrie’, ‘The Shining’,’The Green Mile’ ‘Misery’ and ‘It’ (among countless other bestsellers!)

Stephen King was born in Maine in the U.S. and is a renowned novelist and short-story writer whose books are credited with reviving the genre of horror fiction in the late 20th century. King graduated from the University of Maine in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in English. While writing short stories, he supported himself by teaching and working as a janitor, among other jobs - as is often the case with writers…although it wasn’t long before his writing took over any other ‘proper’ job!

For King, the pen was capable of opening countless doors to unknown worlds. His trusted fountain pen is the Waterman Hémisphère, a pen that rewards practicality with an eye to style. The Hémisphère has a sophisticated silhouette with pleasing finishes and a subtle design that gives it a delicate lightness in writing, making it suitable for long creative sessions.

Image Credit: https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/books/g41054461/best-stephen-king-books-ranked/

When finishing the novel ‘dreamcatcher’ King noted ‘This book was written with the world’s finest word processor, a Waterman cartridge fountain pen.’ King has said that the Waterman put him ‘in touch with language’ - [ in a way that no other form could] - ‘it slows you down, it makes you think about each word as you write it’. 

Stephen King, a master of suspense and horror, understands the importance of finding the perfect tool to bring his stories to life. Just as an artist carefully selects their brush, King chose the Waterman Hémisphère as his trusted companion. With its sleek and elegant design, the Hémisphère embodies the essence of sophistication and exclusivity that King himself exudes in his writing.

The Waterman Hémisphère stands out among other fountain pens for its exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. Its sophisticated silhouette, inspired by the world of art and literature, is a testament to the pen's commitment to elegance and style. The Hémisphère's pleasing finishes, such as its lustrous lacquer and precious metal trims, elevate the writing experience to a new level of luxury.

Waterman Hémisphère Fountain Pen - Deluxe Cracked Ice

Writing with the Waterman Hémisphère is a sensory delight. The pen glides effortlessly across the page, leaving behind a trail of ink that is as smooth as silk. The delicate lightness of the pen allows for hours of uninterrupted writing, making it the perfect companion for long creative sessions. Whether jotting down ideas or crafting intricate plot twists, the Hémisphère's impeccable performance ensures that the words flow effortlessly from the mind to the page.

Stephen King's choice of the Waterman Hémisphère as his trusted pen speaks volumes about its quality and appeal. The Hémisphère's practicality, combined with its stylish design, makes it a must-have for any writer seeking to elevate their craft. Just as King's novels have captivated readers around the world, the Waterman  Hémisphère has the power to captivate writers, unlocking their creativity and guiding them on a path of literary excellence.

F. Scott Fitzgerald: Sheaffer Balance

“The reason one writes isn’t the fact he wants to say something. He writes because he has something to say.”

Image credit: https://fscottfitzgeraldsociety.org/about-us

Although F. Scott Fitzgerald died at the devastatingly young age of 44, he lived a wild and adventurous life which he often drew from for his works of literature. Born in 1896, he is best known for his depictions of the Jazz Age and the ‘roaring twenties’ particularly his now infamous novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ published in 1925. During his lifetime, his work was both considered to be groundbreaking and extraordinary, whilst he also faced criticism for a supposed ‘decline in talent’ relating to his personal life. Although his work gained him early acclaim, he found towards the end of his short life that his novels lost popularity, most likely due to the impact of the Great Depression in America which meant that the opulence and carefree nature depicted in his novels would feel tone-deaf to a country in turmoil - he would sadly not fully understand the impact of his work on later generations.

Fitzgerald famously dropped out of Princeton University after the breakdown of his relationship with socialite and well-known beauty Ginevra King - a relationship which would haunt him throughout his life. Wanting to leave a life of the academy behind, Fitzgerald joined the army and whilst stationed in Alabama he met the daughter of a Supreme Court Judge, Zelda Sayre. The two fell in love but Zelda refused to marry him until he had some success and prestige to his name. F. Scott Fitzgerald moved to New York with the determination to become successful enough to win the hand of Zelda…he eventually succeeded in his mission after deciding to rewrite and publish a novel he had begun during his time at Princeton University.  That novel was ‘This Side of Paradise’ which became an instant success selling more than 40,000 copies in its first year and it became a cultural sensation - making Fitzgerald a household name.

The Fitzgeralds’ wedding portrait.

Although reportedly at this point, he and Zelda had grown somewhat tired of each other (though the extent to which this is true is unknown) they married in the Spring after his debut novel's publication. ‘This Side of Paradise’ follows the (often painful) sexual and intellectual awakening of a young man (echoing Fitzgerald's own life). Its success is likely due to the way it became a portrait of a lost generation following on from the First World War, showing the morality of youth entering the Jazz Age fueled by a desire for money and success.

Zelda and Fitgerald gained such fame from this first novel that they soon took on the personas of those Fitzgerald was writing about. They were well known members of society and would be found at the best parties and gatherings surrounded by high society, celebrity and the creative high-flyers. However, a cloud lay above the glistening glamour of their lives. It was said that they had a tumultuous marriage and when on good terms were more akin to friends than lovers. The pressures of the wild life they had created took a toll on them and this can be seen in Fitzgerald's second novel - ‘The Beautiful and Damned’. This second novel was published in 1922….a year after their beloved daughter ‘Scottie’ was born. In a bid to preserve some normalcy for Scottie, the family relocated to the French Riviera to live amongst the American expatriates. The society which had been created there was to inspire his third novel ‘Tender is the night’ and as was the style of Fitzgerald, many of the characters were modelled on people in his life and his observations of the world around him. Shortly after this, work began (and was soon completed) on what is likely his most famous novel ‘The Great Gatsby’. Themes around the ‘American Dream’ and the desire to attain wealth and success amid a realisation that there is little to no value in this endeavour punctuate through the novel alongside incredible visuals of the stark contradictions between the opulent lifestyle and happiness of the story's protagonist.

Original cover illustration by Francis Cugat (1893–1981) and published by Charles Scribner& Sons. Digital restoration and enhancement by User:Flask. - Mechanical scan/photocopy of the 1925 original cover, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=97570672

Zelda experienced significant mental health issues which would put a lot of strain on Fitzgerald and especially his writing. Off the back of the success of ‘The Great Gatsby’, Fitzgerald wrote a number of short stories and novellas for publication in magazines to bring in a more regular income stream. Their lifestyle was an expensive one and keeping up appearances was important to both Zelda and Fitzgerald, this when teamed with medical bills and treatment for Zelda meant that Fitzgerald would find himself in debt and taking advances from his publisher and borrowing money from his agent. Fitzgerald was an alcoholic and both he and Zelda struggled with ill health both physically and mentally. The 1930s was a desperate time for the couple with Zelda having suicidal and homicidal tendencies and numerous breakdowns (she would later be diagnosed Schizophrenic and bi-polar). It wasn't until 1934 that Fitzgerald would publish another novel ‘Tender Is The Night’ but it was a commercial flop. The novel follows a psychiatrist who marries a patient whose recovery leaves the man exhausted and lacking vitality and life…another example of art imitating life (to misquote) for Fitzgerald. Zelda was institutionalised and Fitzgerald descended further into his alcoholism, fuelled further by criticism that he wasted his talent and he took a hatchet to his novels to produce ill-formed and poorly written work for fast money.

Fitzgerald returned to the U.S and moved to Hollywood to try his hand at screenwriting. Here he fell in love with Sheilah Graham - a famous gossip columnist - and he spent the remainder of his life with her (although he remained in contact with his estranged wife and would regularly visit Scottie whom he adored). His final novel ‘The Last Tycoon’ would remain half finished as the life of overconsumption and ill-health contributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald's passing at the age of 44, just 4 days before the Christmas of 1940.

Image Credit: https://bookmarks.reviews/the-first-reviews-of-every-f-scott-fitzgerald-novel/

The life of F. Scott Fitzgerald was a passionate existence of extreme highs and lows - all of which was incredible fuel for his fanciful tales. Although ardently against using his novels for any political stance, his work has become a staple in an examination of the American Dream, gender relations and class inequality and is found in classrooms and lecture theatres across the world. While his works reached millions of readers across the world, F. Scott Fitzgerald also inspired many authors including names like T. S. Elliott, Henry James, and J. D. Salinger. 

It will come as no surprise that the literary icon, F. Scott Fitzgerald found delight in the elegant lines of the Sheaffer Balance. With its streamlined design and impeccable balance, this pen perfectly mirrored Fitzgerald's pursuit of beauty and perfection. As he crafted his tales of love, wealth, and the American Dream, the Sheaffer Balance became an extension of Fitzgerald's own desire for a life of glamour and sophistication.

The Sheaffer Balance is a classic fountain pen that was first introduced in the 1920s. It quickly became popular among writers and professionals for its sleek design and exceptional performance. The pen features a streamlined barrel and a balanced weight distribution, allowing for a comfortable and effortless writing experience.

The Sheaffer Balance had a profound impact on Fitzgerald's writing process. The pen's smooth and effortless writing experience allowed Fitzgerald to focus on his craft without distractions. It became an extension of his creative mind, enabling him to bring his characters to life and weave intricate narratives that captured the essence of the Roaring Twenties.

A modern take on the Sheaffer Balance is the Sheaffer 100. This one appointed in gold and chrome feels like it could be straight from the desk of Jay Gatsby himself!

Sheaffer 100 Fountain Pen - Polished Chrome

The Sheaffer Balance was also the pen of choice for another effervescent figure…Walt Disney. Although his personal life (and life after his death) is peppered with controversy, the impact his work has on the world is undeniable. Disney was often pictured with Sheaffer pens and a very well-used Sheaffer Balance fountain pen was found at his desk in 1970.

Toni Morrison: Cross Townsend

“If there's a book that you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it,”

Image Credit: Toni Morrison speaking at "A Tribute to Chinua Achebe- 50 Years Anniversary of 'Things Fall Apart'". The Town Hall,New York City, February 26th, 2008. wiki commons

Born Chloe Ardeli Wofford in 1931, Toni Morrison was a noted writer of the Black experience (particularly the Black female experience) who in 1993 won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She grew up in the American Midwest and storytelling, songs and folk tales were a formative experience of her childhood. In 1953 she graduated Howard University with a B.A in English which she followed up with a Masters in American Literature from Cornell University. She taught at both Texas Southern University and Howard University before becoming a fiction editor at Random House in 1965. She was the first black female editor at Random House and began a career as a novelist in the 1970s.

Her first publication was ‘The Bluest Eyes’ released in 1970 which was about a victimised black teenage girl who was obsessed by white standards of beauty and longed for blue eyes. Three years later, ‘Sula’ was published which (among other issues) examined the dynamics of friendship and conformity within a predominantly racist community. In 1977 ‘Song of Solomon’ made Toni Morrison a household name. It tells of a male African-American protagonist narrator in search of his identity throughout his life (this couldn't be more of a simplification of the widely acclaimed masterpiece!) Less than half a decade later came ‘Tar Baby’ exploring racial conflict and issues of sex and class and in 1987, ‘Beloved’ was published and went on to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. It is based on the true story of a runaway slave who, when faced with a return into slavery mills her infant daughter to spare her a life of slavery. In Morrison's novel, the slain daughter returns to haunt and aggravate the remaining living family and acquaintances with the title ‘Beloved’ representing the mother only being able to afford the endearing term on the headstone for her daughter. 

Image credit: https://blackwithnochaser.com/12-must-read-books-by-toni-morrison/

Toni Morrison found solace in the timeless elegance of the Cross Townsend. With its classic design and impeccable craftsmanship, this pen became an extension of Morrison's unwavering commitment to storytelling and social justice. As she explored the complexities of race, identity, and memory, the Cross Townsend allowed Morrison's words to flow with grace and power, leaving an indelible mark on the literary world.

Cross Townsend Ballpoint Pen - Black Lacquer with 23ct Gold Plated Trim

These pens, cherished by some of the greatest writers of all time, not only served as tools of their trade but also as symbols of their unique creative spirits. Just as a painter selects the perfect brush or a fashion designer chooses the finest fabric, these writers carefully chose their pens to bring their literary visions to life. As we admire their works, let us also appreciate the pens that played a silent but essential role in shaping the literary landscape we know today.

Quickfire Round! 

The temptation lies in composing reams and reams about the frankly fascinating lives of famous writers and the tools of their trade but in the interest of brevity I will merely touch upon some persons of interest and their, very much of interest, pens of choice!

Elementary, my dear reader!

Image: Arthur Conan Doyle by Walter Benington, 1914.Created: 1 January 1914. wikicommons

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Creator of the wondrous Sherlock Holmes and owner of one spectacular moustache! The writer and physician unsurprisingly favoured the Parker Duofold. Parker began producing the Duofold in 1921 and their inception certainly contributed to the rise in popularity of the brand - particularly as one of the first imaginings of this delightful pen was bright red…uncommon at the time! Adored by collectors and appreciated by those who enjoy fountain pens, the Parker Duofold has been part of more exceptional writing than perhaps we will ever know. 

Parker Duofold Classic International Fountain Pen - Black with Chrome Trim

Partial to a Parker?

Image Credit: Lloyd Arnold, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons - Hemingway posing for a dust jacket photo by Lloyd Arnold for the first edition of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", at the Sun Valley Lodge, Idaho, late 1939.

Ernest Hemingway, known for his no-nonsense approach to writing and impactful prose, also found his writing companion in Parker Duofold (and reportedly Montegrappa). This pen, with its bold design and impeccable craftsmanship, perfectly complemented Hemingway's straightforward and unadorned style. With each stroke of the Duofold, Hemingway captured the raw emotions and vivid imagery that defined his iconic works such as "The Old Man and the Sea" and "For Whom the Bell Tolls."

A slightly fancier model is the 100th anniversary special edition!

Parker Duofold 100th Anniversary Edition Fountain Pen - Red

The Parker Duofold became an extension of Hemingway's hand, allowing him to effortlessly translate his thoughts and emotions into words. Its bold design and impeccable craftsmanship inspired Hemingway to write with confidence and conviction. The smooth writing experience provided by the Duofold allowed Hemingway to focus on his ideas and storytelling, without being hindered by a subpar writing instrument. With each stroke of the Duofold, Hemingway brought his characters to life and transported his readers to new worlds.

The names...Ian?! 

Image Credit: Getty images & https://www.historyextra.com/membership/ian-fleming-who-man-behind-created-james-bond/

Ian Flemming used a… Biro?! You read that correctly! The mind behind James Bond was fond of a Biro Cristal Ballpoint! Though it should be added that he had a gold cap created which he would swap between pens as they ran out. Ian Fleming is a bit of a mystery  - like Bond himself -  when it comes to narrowing down his absolute favourite pen. It is reported that he enjoyed a S.T Dupont fountain pen whilst others report it was a Dunhil. It may even seem to make sense that Montblac was favoured by the author as this is notably the pen of choice for 007 (although it could be a choice based on the prestige of the brand and how the brand would fit the persona of Bond). What is known for certain is that alongside the gentle tap of his Royal Quiet Deluxe Portable Typewriter was the oh-so-familiar to many of us, scratch of the humble Biro Cristal. Fleming made note of this to ‘On the Road’ Author Jack Kerouac specifically highlighting the addition of his bespoke gold cap!

Image Credit: A Montblanc Octopussy tie-in advertisement features a yellow gold Montblanc Meisterstuck fountain pen. photo © Prop Store. https://www.jamesbondlifestyle.com/product/montblanc-meisterstuck-fountain-pen


Homage to Hemingway - Montegrappa

We mentioned earlier that Hemingway was fond of the Parker Duofold. He also had an affinity for Montegrappa. Although not partial to one model of Montegrappa pen in particular, was especially fond of the brand. Why? Because, during World War I, when the American author served as an ambulance driver on the Italian Front, he was stationed next to the pen manufacturer’s Bassano del Grappa factory. Montegrappa created an homage to the author in their ‘novel’ collection.

Unfortunately, this striking pen sold out quickly.

Elegant, ergonomic and surprisingly sober of design, the tobacco and amber pattern on the barrel is particularly evocative — and features Art Deco laser-cut frames with the writer’s signature in contrast.

A stunning alternative is the Desiderio - Italian for 'Desire' - represents deeply-felt desire, the longing one has for the target or their ardor. It may be the need to perform a particular function or role, or having a wish come true. It is a most powerful force, one that fuels great art, heroic achievement, herculean effort. But it is also personal, an inner drive that craves fulfilment or satisfaction.

Montegrappa Desiderio Fountain Pen - Black

Anne Frank

Anne Frank laughing at the school photographer. This photograph was made at the Joods Lyceum (Jewish High School Amsterdam, address Voormalige Stadstimmertuin 1), December 1941. Wikicommons

Arguably the most famous diarist of all time, Anne Frank, reportedly wrote with a gifted Montblanc fountain pen. She was given the pen when she was 9 and continued to write with it in the annexe until it was accidentally destroyed in the fireplace, causing her to write an ‘ode’ to her pen. Although most would agree that the prized pen was a Montblac, it has never been confirmed without a doubt…what is certain is that she adored her pen. She wrote: 

“My fountain pen was always one of my most prized possessions; I valued it highly, especially because it had a thick nib, and I can only write neatly with thick nibs. It has led a long and interesting fountain-pen life…When I was nine, my fountain pen (packed in cotton wool) arrived as a ‘sample of no commercial value’ all the way from Aachen, where my grandmother (the kindly donor) used to live. I lay in bed with the flu, while the February winds howled around our flat. This splendid fountain pen came in a red leather case, and I showed it to my girlfriends the first chance I got. Me, Anne Frank, the proud owner of a fountain pen.”

Infamous Pens at The Hamilton Pen Company

Well, there you have it! Just a snippet of the fascinating world of historical figures and their favoured writing instruments. Feeling inspired? Why not explore our full collections of pens, pencils and stationery at The Hamilton Pen Company.


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