I have some opinions about Leonardo and his work.  I have often thought I would like to write about what I believe he was like and how he had the same kind of problems promoting his ideas as many  inventors do.  Somehow other things always seem to take precedence and I have never really been able to find the time to write about Leonardo.

About forty years ago I became interested in Leonardo Da Vinci's work as an inventor.  His fame was based primarily on his art, with his science being secondary.  I read what was written about him and eventually what he wrote himself.  I began to see how similar his interests were to the other innovative  people who came before and after him. 

Leonardo's Secret Writing

Why did Leonardo Da Vinci write in backward or mirror image style?

For over five hundred years, scholars have explained Leonardo's mirror writing as writing which could only be read in a mirror because he wanted to keep what he wrote secret.

As an inventor who understands how some inventors think, I never believed that Leonardo's writing had anything to do with secrets or mystery writing. He was such a creative, innovative person, he wrote the way he did because it was easier and possibly less "messy". Leonardo was left handed. If you have ever watched a left handed person write you will see that in order to be able to read what they have written, as they write it, they "curl" their hand around what they have written. This allows them to see what they are writing as well as reduce the tendency to cover the newly written material with the side of the hand. If the writing was being done with a pen or quill dipped in ink, the left handed writer would tend to "drag" the outside part of the hand over what was just written. The right handed writer doesn't have this problem because the hand moves away from what is being written. There is no blocking the view of the writing and no dragging the hand across the wet ink. 

So, I believe Leonardo simply devised the backward writing because it worked for him. Truly a practical and ingenious way to write his thoughts quickly and without mess.  And obviously, he had no problem reading what he had written.  That's it. No big secret and deep dark mystery.  Just a good example of how Leonardo was someone who could "think outside the box".  By the way, he didn't always write backwards.   There are examples of his writing in the "normal" way.  And he sometimes also used a short hand system he devised.


Pat Amendolia, 2006

 Return to "What have you invented?"