Carole Shammas examines the correspondence of five generations of an elite English family to understand how the standardization of vernacular writing in this period was reflected in practice. Shammas looks specifically at whether family members’ script, spelling, and punctuation matched that prescribed and modeled in copybooks, spellers, and printed books. She documents when men rejected secretary hand and women moved from printing to cursive, showing that gender differences in writing narrowed but persisted through 1700. Most importantly, she demonstrates that, even in an elite family, only those who went to secondary school reliably wrote a fluid script with orthodox spelling and basic punctuation. The pedagogy of the time was thus ill-suited to achieve standardized written literacy among the general population.