A “beguiling . . . passionate and funny” biography of the alphabet—from A to Z and umlauts to dictionaries—by a bestselling author “whose fervor is contagious” (Boston Globe).
In Alphabetical, Michael Rosen tells the fascinating tale of how our modern alphabet—those twenty-six peculiar shapes and their corresponding sounds—came to be. With a chapter devoted to each letter, Rosen shares personal anecdotes and fascinating facts about the history and evolution of written language. Starting with the mysterious Phoenicians and the first time sounds were turned into symbols, he races on to show how nonsense poems work, pin down the strange story of OK, trace our five lost letters and tackle the tyranny of spelling, among many other things.
His heroes of the alphabet range from Edward Lear to Phyllis Pearsall (the inventor of the A-Z), and from the two scribes of Beowulf to today’s most innovative rappers. Exploring subjects from codes to umlauts and the writing of dictionaries, “Rosen has written a charming and thought-provoking book about what written language represents, how we use it, and the joys and mysteries therein.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred Review).