Publication Date: 30/10/2017 ISBN: 9781786270832 Category:

The Secret Life of the Pencil

Alex Hammond, Mike Tinney

Publisher: Laurence King Publishing
Publication Date: 30/10/2017 ISBN: 9781786270832 Category:



Mr B's review

Like many of the authors we sell, at Mr B’s we are obsessive about good pencils and so this is our new bible. The first half is largely photographic and feels like being led (get it?) through an eclectic museum of influential writing instruments – close-ups of James Dyson’s skyscraper style metallic propeller rubs erasers with Nick Park’s battered Berol. Twenty short interviews follow with novelists, designers, artists and others, each shedding light on their pencil habits at work and at doodle.


Since software programs have come to dominate offices and studios, the pencil has become a symbol for creative freedom. In other words, the work you do on the computer is what you do for work, to pay the rent, whereas the stuff you do with your pencil is the stuff you do for fun. Apart from stimulating the world’s most important creative minds, the pencil has become the modern creative’s ultimate fetish.

This book presents a unique collection of close-up pictures of pencils from some of our foremost artists, designers, writers, architects and musicians. What makes these pictures compelling is the fact that they somehow reflect the creative personalities of their owners: Philippe Starck’s is a stylish black and red, Paul Smith’s is a classic jewel-like thing worth GBP3,000 (a present from Jonathan Ive), William Boyd’s is nicely aged and rusty, while Anish Kapoor’s is sculpted into a mini ArcelorMittal Orbital tower. The pictures are complemented by material such as sketches, quotes and brief interviews, giving a further insight into the workings of these great creative minds.

Book experts at your service

What are you looking for?

A recommendation
Something specific
  • Mr B's Recommendation Station
  • Fill in the three questions below, along with your name and email address, and our book experts will be in touch soon with their personal recommendations

  • I'm after something specific
  • Tell us about the book, author or subject you're looking for, along with your name and email address and our book experts will be in touch as soon as possible