Kitty Burns Florey


Spring 2015
I'm pleased to report that Open Road Media will be issuing all my backlist novels as e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. Also, Audible will bring out four of them as audiobooks. And my long-in-progress book about my longlost grandmother, a memoir/​family history that also incorporates fictional elements, will be published in March.

Details to come!

Kitty and Fred - photo by Bill Stanton - August 2014

paperback and ebook

A rave review from Michael Dirda in the Washington Post:
"Gradually, it grows clear that The Writing Master isn't just a mystery or a romance, it's a study of family unhappiness, mental illness and, above all, the condition of women in mid-19th-century America. For all the lightness of tone, it is filled with considerable darkness, and there is no assurance that all will end happily. But the book is chockablock with fascinating characters, especially the women....There are, naturally, surprises in the narrative loops and plot swirls of The Writing Master are finally knotted together."


"I tore through THE WRITING MASTER in one night.
It's a murder mystery, a father-daughter story,
and a detailed slice of
19th-century New England history. Lovely!"
~ Susan Cheever, author of Louisa May Alcott and American Bloomsbury

“I don’t have enough superlatives to describe my delight with THE WRITING MASTER. I loved every moment I spent in the 19th-century world of Florey’s endearing and complicated characters. I loved their heartbreaking plights, their sparkling dialogue, their fully realized setting, their unexpected destinations.
I will read it again while I wait for a sequel.”
~Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys

The Writing Master is set in 1856 in New Haven, Connecticut, a city I lived in for much of my adult life. The book was inspired by the writing of my second work of nonfiction, Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting. In the course of the research, I became fascinated by the importance of handwriting -- now so sadly devalued -- in earlier days, when a fast, legible script was indispensable for a gentleman, and the gloriously embellished script of a master of the art was held in deep respect.

My novel is about a summer in the life of a writing master, a man who earned his living producing letters and documents for people who could not write (or, often, read). During long walks around downtown New Haven, and on many afternoons at the New Haven Historical Society, I imagined Charles Cooper and built a world around him - his sad past, his hopeful present. The plot includes a very Sherlockian murder investigation, a mysterious woman with her own tragic story, a visit to a Connecticut madhouse, and much more -- truly a “contemporary Victorian novel”

In my spare moments, I plot a sequel, thirty years onward, set in Amherst, Mass., where I now live. I don't have many spare moments, so I don't know if a middle-aged Charles will ever see the light, but he’s a lovable character, and I remain intrigued by him -- and hope you will too.

The novel is now available as both an e-book and a paperback, published by White River Press. Karen Kleinerman, one of my most talented friends -- and that's saying a lot -- designed the fabulous covers for both formats.

newly designed paperback

“Kitty Burns Florey’s charming history of the rise and fall of handwriting is a loving and polished tribute to a modest but deeply civilizing skill that can make our words not only intelligible to others but, like this book, sweet and beautiful.”
~David Skinner, author of The Story of Ain’t: America, Its Language, and the Most Controversial Dictionary Ever Published

"[A] witty and readable (and fetchingly illustrated and glossed) excursion [that] covers a lot of ground."
~ Cullen Murphy in the Wall Street Journal

For all you handwriting defenders out there: A link to my interview on Wisconsin Public Radio's terrific program "To the Best of Our Knowledge," with Jim Fleming.

* * * * *

Note: I was pleased that, in the movie DOUBT, not only was there an accurate sentence diagram on the blackboard in one scene, but Meryl Streep in her role as Sister Aloysius came out against ballpoint pens (see Script and Scribble, p. 17) and uttered the immortal line "Penmanship is dying across the country." So true, Sister....


Now available as an e-book


Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog
with a new Afterword about the famous Sister Bernadette herself


"Best Book of 2006!" -- Slate magazine

"This gem from copy editor Florey is a bracing ode to grammar; it's laced with a survivor's nostalgia for classrooms ruled by knuckle-cracking nuns who knew their participles." ~ People magazine