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Reply #9: Not that I know of; but it may go back 50 years or more [View All]

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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-29-06 04:27 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Not that I know of; but it may go back 50 years or more
There are hints of a much older association of eccentricity with green ink, however. Subscriber Anelie Walsh e-mailed from Australia following the first appearance of this piece to mention that it turns up in Carl Sagans book The Cosmic Connection (1973):

There came in the post an eighty-five-page handwritten letter, written in green ball-point ink, from a gentleman in a mental hospital in Ottawa. He had read a report in a local newspaper that I had thought it possible that life exists on other planets; he wished to reassure me that I was entirely correct in this supposition, as he knew from his own personal knowledge.

An earlier reference, less direct, is from Kingsley Amiss Lucky Jim (1953), mentioned by several subscribers, among them Jane Halsey. The hero gets letters from a person purporting to be an editor of a learned journal, ill-written in green ink. The implication seems to be that the green ink is a sign of some abnormality (the writer turns out to be an academic thief) but whether Amis invented it, or was drawing on an existing folk belief about letters written in green ink is impossible to say.

http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-gre5.htm


And there's a tantalising New Scientist article from 1989: What makes people expound theories of the Universe in green ink on lightweight notepaper?, but it's subscription only.
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