Harper Lee, with one Ticonderoga Pencil.


This story is five years old, but it could use a retelling. In 2007, volunteers set out to prove that a single pencil could copy one entire novel, namely, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. From To Write a Mockingbird:

How volunteers came together to copy the acclaimed novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” word-for-word with ONE PENCIL. It began May 4, 2007 at the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library and concluded on June 6.

This is truly a feat of prodigious patience, one that mirrors the life of the single pencil that the volunteers all used in this experiment. The pencil in question, an American-made Dixon Ticonderoga, survived the ordeal intact, though it required a bit of surgery to be useful.

The pencil in the “Bi-conderoga” mode that allows writing with a stub: The metal ferrule of another pencil joins the stub to an unsharpened pencil, and the combination is stabilized with tape and a splint (the shaft of a cotton swab).

(Perhaps those Comrades who find themselves in the trenches sans Pencil Extenders could use this method of Pencil Lengthening in their Extreme Writing endeavors.)

Listen to the writers on NPR, and read more at Discover magazine.