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The Notebook


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Diaries, sketchbooks, common-places, notebooks, ledgers and ships' logs: how the blank book changed the way we think, and helped us change the world.

About the Author

Roland Allen is a publisher and author who lives in Hove. He studied at Manchester University and works in book (and notebook) publishing. He has written about subjects as diverse as bicycles and bread, kept a diary for decades, and enjoys stationery a little too much.


'A notebook is evidence, process and inspiration, and Roland Allen captures it all in this sweeping survey of ideas and inventiveness. For everyone who ever bought a Moleskine and then wondered how to fill it' - Simon Garfield

'Transformational ... it's inspiring me to write longhand in a real paper notebook again' - Victoria Finlay

'A glorious celebration of my all-time favourite object from its earliest incarnations to its funkiest forms. In his always interesting history of thinking on paper, Roland Allen has confected a scintillating cornucopia of notebook miscellany' - Sara Wheeler, author

'Meticulously researched and intensely readable ... a tantalising glimpse into the private thoughts of artists, voyagers and medics, from pre-Renaissance Florence to a Covid-filled intensive care ward' - Giles Minton

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