"By the end of supper my mother had convinced me that I should study shorthand in the evenings"
Consonants in Pitman shorthand
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeConsonants in Pitman shorthand - Credit: Xanthoxyl, Wikimedia Commons


The process of writing shorthand, sometimes called stenography, involves representing the spoken word as symbols. It has traditionally been used by journalists and secretaries, although it is now a somewhat outmoded skill in the latter field. Two well known shorthand systems are the Pitman system, and the Gregg system.

In Letters Home (p.124), Sylvia Plath's mother notes that she gave her daughter four lessons of shorthand during the summer of 1953, but that Sylvia's 'dis-jointed style of handwriting did not lend itself well to the connected strokes of the Gregg system'. She went on to say that she later regretted that they had attempted the lessons as they 'just added to her [Sylvia's] increasing feelings of failure and inferiority'.