What does our prime minister’s handwriting say about the man?

Who would have guessed our prime minister penned such beautiful cursive


Fred Chartrand/CP

Rarely is our prime minister an elegant man. Then again, rarely do we see his handwriting.

When he signed the book of condolences for the late Margaret Thatcher at Ottawa’s British High Commission, Stephen Harper penned a four-line message—capped with his signature, which we see now and again—that was effusive in praise of the Iron Lady:

Canada deeply mourns the passing of Margaret Thatcher, a great friend of our country. Hers was a leadership example for the ages, from which we all benefit to this day – and will for many more to come.

Harper’s penmanship represents the opposite of the way he’s come to be defined: the cursive is elegant, and warm; the lettering is intricate; the message is a whisper, visually, bunched together between the lines. Harper’s first words appear timid, though he marked Thatcher’s name with a confident flourish. This is not the handwriting you expect from a man defined variously as controlling, as a bully, as cold.

As for his signature: We’ve seen this before, appended to various correspondence dating back years. Traces of that elegance pop out—check out the detail on the ‘H’—but it betrays little of Harper’s careful penmanship.

Handwriting, critiqued

Jack Lew's signature

Remember Jack Lew’s appointment as U.S. treasury secretary, earlier this year? Lew, who’d served as President Barack Obama’s chief of staff for a year prior to his current post, was ridiculed by the president and the press in January for a signature that’s a little loopy—actually, a whole lot of loopy. The treasury secretary’s signature appears on American currency, and Obama joked that Lew assured him he’d “work to make at least one letter legible in order not to debase our currency.”

And then there was disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, whose minimalist signature turned some heads in 2011 and had the Village Voice wondering what it all meant—and quoting purported experts saying that Weiner’s signature featured “typical traits of a master politician.”


Barack Obama's signature. Photo courtesy The White House.

Even the signatures of would-be political leaders—say, candidates for the Republican presidential nomination—couldn’t escape the critiques of graphologists. Sheila Kurtz, one such graphologist, took a look at U.S. President Barack Obama’s handwriting. She wrote that his penmanship suggests he is “extremely nimble-minded” and “unclogged with preconceptions.” He “thinks before taking action,” wrestles with “surges of impatience”, and maintains a “full imagination with a literary bent.” Finally, because his upper loops are “very full,” Kurtz says Obama is probably a spiritual person.

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What does our prime minister’s handwriting say about the man?

  1. I see the handwriting of a bookish nerd so devoid of personal style that he never deviated from his grade 5 penmanship lessons.

  2. I wouldn’t say the cursive is elegant, but more traditionally schoolbook: controlled, contained, almost immature, and meets expectations. The signature is the give-away. Bold, and stripped of information content, (readability, communicativeness) knife-like, to the point, and practically hieroglyphic.

    The “careful penmanship” betrays both the literal message, and how he wants it communicated (the face), and reveals in the signature, (the man), what, and how it is being communicated.

    • At least he didn’t use a stamp.

  3. Harpers cursive looks fine to me ( never liked all that loopy elegant stuff myself)
    It’s his minions…er, ministers that worry me. Some days I’m not sure if many of them could do any more than block in their names in crayon. (after getting permission of course)

    On the bright side, now he’s only claiming on our behalf that Thatcher’s legacy will last for an unspecified period – not hundreds of years. That’s always been his problem – a partisan addiction for a rather bizarre interpretation of facts and history in general. It colors almost everything he says and does – from a political pov anyway.

  4. I actually saw this on the CBC and did the same thing the author did in trying to analyze it.

    Just an amateur graphologist here but this is my take:

    Exceptionally self-conscious evidenced by the exceptionally closed letter spacing in his words. Exceptionally focused and driven as is evidenced by how small his writing is. Emotionally expressive as per the forward slant in his writing. Surprisingly, an optimist based on the upward slant of the base of his writing. A much more abstract over concrete thinker. And finally intelligent as is evidenced by the speed and lack of detailing with his hand writing.

    Not an offer of my opinion on the man’s politics (not as many nice things to say on that front) but still an interesting little look and guess at a personality portrait through a parlor trick.

  5. The signature looks like he spent a whole day inventing it as a 12 year old while dreaming of his future as a very important man, already determined that he would never be called “Steve.”

  6. Well, I think it’s safe to say he could never be an MD.

  7. I hate to inform the writer but most people born before 1970 have nice handwriting. That’s the way we were taught.

    • We were also taught to write on the lines.

  8. His “cursive is elegant”…?


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