Lit Stammers

Stuttering is said to affect one in every 100 people, and although it’s no longer “cured” with leeches on the lips, no one really knows why it happens or how to stop it.

However, for the stammerer who wishes to express himself without the risks inherent in speech, there is an obvious alternative: writing. On the page, even the most unruly words can be brought into line, so it may be no coincidence that many of the finest writers have suffered from a stammer: Lewis Carroll, Arnold Bennett, Somerset Maugham, Aldous Huxley, Elizabeth Bowen, Philip Larkin, Henry James, Charles Kingsley, Leigh Hunt, Margaret Drabble, and many more.

From this observation, it’s only a short leap to the conclusion that James’ “snaking sentences, full of measured subclauses and self-qualifications” may have had something to do with his stammering.

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