For many, understanding how writers work can be a challenge. Many of the best writers have certain habits that they form for their own success. From drinking while editing (Joan Didion) to never beginning a new piece on a Friday (Truman Capote), writers’ idiosyncrasies during the creative process becomes a part of their identity and, eventually, their identity.
One such way that we learn about writers and their work is through what pen they used. Staring at the nib, just quivering over the page while the ink welled up, must have been some sight to see from these famous authors’ desks. And while we may not know, exactly, the process for each, we can guess what that tableau of their office must have looked like, given that we know about their writing preferences.
Here are five famous authors and how they liked to write.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Parker Duofold
The man who popularised the detective novel to a new height, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was a fan of the Parker Duofold. Writing during the height of the fountain pen’s mass growth in Europe and the United States, the Parker became Doyle’s favorite for its ease of use and its beauty. Many of the key points of preference Doyle had for the Duofold are still in existence today: it’s a balanced pen with a stunning silhouette, set in a reliable and lightweight acrylic. It’s elementary, my dear Watson, why this was his go-to pen!
Anne Frank – Montblanc Meisterstück
Anne Frank’s story continues to touch the hearts of millions around the world, as she detailed her life during one of Europe’s darkest periods. Anne received her Meisterstück for her ninth birthday and with it penned a biographical work that changed the way we understood the tragedy of the Holocaust and the small girl behind such an overwhelming tragedy.
Stephen King – Waterman Hemisphere
The king of horror, Stephen King went for the classic Waterman Hemisphere when writing one of his best-selling works, Dreamcatcher. In fact, he went through four Watermans to finish the novel and noted in the back of the book that, “[the] book was written with the world’s finest word processor, a Waterman cartridge fountain pen.” King has long been a fan of using tactile writing versus digital, believing it immerses the writer into the work and us here at Inkstable have to agree!
Haruki Murakami – Sailor
Two legends of Japanese culture, Murakami and Sailor are a match made in heaven. Murakami has spoken about his love for fountain pens numerous times and even makes it a point for characters in his novels to use them, too. Murakami’s first fountain pen purchase was an inexpensive Sailor, which was detailed in The New Yorker article “The Running Novelist” in which he says, “When I thought about sitting down at my desk at home and starting to write, I realized that I didn’t even own a decent fountain pen. So I went to the Kinokuniya store in Shinjuku and bought a sheaf of manuscript paper and a five-dollar Sailor pen.” It has been a love affair ever since for the author.
Ernest Hemingway – Montegrappa
Many photos can be found of Hemingway writing at various desks, pensively staring down at his paper. His love of Montegrappa (called ELMO during his early years) began during the First World War, when he carried his fountain pen across Europe as a soldier. He would eventually write A Farewell to Arms about this time with the same pen used during his travels. This was the beginning of a lifelong love for the Italian brand.
Honorable Mention – Mark Twain – Conklin Crescent Filler
Both Twain and Conklin were American institutions that put their mark on American history. Twain was a fan of the state-of-the-art self-filling pen. Twain’s literary prowess would eventually mean his image was used to sell the pen, marrying writers and fountain pen enthusiasts alike for nearly a century and a half.