The Case of the Blind Woman and Her Invisible Manuscript

If you’ve ever had a flash of inspiration, but couldn’t find a pen and paper to record it, or if you’ve wakened in the middle of the night to write down brilliant ideas, and then could not read your scribblings in the morning…

…you might be able to relate to the bereft blind British writer whose manuscript disappeared.

In an article published in the New York Times, John F. Burns reports on The Case of a Blind Woman and Her Invisible Manuscript. After writing the first 26 pages of her novel, Mrs. Vickers discovered that her pen had run out of ink before she had ever started; all the pages were blank when she later showed her efforts to her son.

“I could remember the gist of what I’d written, but there was no way I could have written exactly the same way again….”

You may feel her pain, but the story has an unusual and happy ending. A police forensic expert recovered the words by using a light source to reveal the pen indentations; movie director Alfred Hitchcock used a somewhat cruder technique, having Cary Grant lightly move a pencil over a blank page to reveal a message in the mystery thriller, North by Northwest.

Mrs. Vickers is back on track, writing her novel – Grannifer’s Legacy – with a volunteer regularly typing her words. Her experience reminded me of The Blind Contessa’s New Machine – a fictionalized version of another true story.