The Science of Handwriting Analysis – Meet Beverley East

Beverley East is even busier these days than before. With cases of forgery in Jamaica at unprecedented levels, the handwriting analyst has had to set up house in Kingston, the nation’s capital to deal with the flood of requests for her expertise from the banking sector and the judiciary.To get a sense of your soul, East doesn’t have to rely on those limpid pools that pose as portals to your inner being, as George Bush found, when he looked into Vladimir Putin’s eyes. East looks into your handwriting for answers. Depending on the slant of your strokes and the pressure of your pen, she can tell you things about yourself you don’t even realize exist.

A leading authority in handwriting analysis, East has practiced the science of Forensic Document Examination for over 19 years, working in the private and public sectors in personnel management for more than 14 years for British and U.S. corporations. Her company Strokes & Slants, was established in Washington, D.C in 1989, with offices in London opened in 1991, and in Jamaica in 2000.  She consults with major companies world-wide.

Forensic document examination is the application of allied sciences and analytical techniques to questions concerning documents. The examination of questioned documents consists of the analysis and comparison of the handwriting in question, extending to other documentary evidence with known material in order to establish authenticity of the contested material as well as detection of any alterations.

Among the landmark cases where East’s opinion and expertise have been sought were those such as the Monica Lewinsky, Jon Benet Ramsey, Anthrax Letters and the DC sniper’s handwriting cases. In Jamaica she handles will and testament cases for the most part.

“I just love, love my work as an analyst,” she gushes as she describes her work. “Each handwriting sample, each signature I am asked to analyze is different. When I analyze handwriting for personality profiles I can tell so much about an individual, I sometimes shock myself. Also when I am looking at documents that are forged, i.e. a will, I can see a whole history of a family unravel under the microscope. It is just so fascinating.”

The doyenne of handwriting analysis is also an acclaimed international speaker and has been a guest speaker at the House of Commons in London, the World Bank, several embassies and at conferences around the globe. She has been a frequent guest on major television networks including Good Morning America, Later Today, MSNBC Homepage and the BBC. She has been interviewed by the Washington Post, HR Magazine, Gold Digest, among others. Beverley holds a communications degree, a Masters in Graphology and is author of the runaway bestseller Finding Mr. Write – A New Slant on Selecting the Perfect Mate.

For six years she wrote “Writefully Yours”, a popular weekly career column in Jamaica’s Sunday Gleaner, and continues to write “Reading your Writes” for the Sunday Herald, as she has for the past eight years. Beverley has also copped the Women of Achievement Award as the only woman of color worldwide disciplined and qualified in the handwriting expertise. She is also a contributor to two Maria Dodd anthologies  – Journey to a Blissful Life and Journey to My Brother’s Soul.  Beverley did not even slow down while researching and writing her debut novel, hosting three popular radio shows and founding the Writer’s Lounge, an online writing course for other potential authors.

Her first novel, Reaper of Souls, is based on the worst rail disaster in Jamaica’s history, the 1957 Kendal train crash, and was released on the 50th anniversary of the tragedy on September 1, 2007.  Reaper of Souls was read at the Calabash International Literary Festival earlier this year, and was nominated for the Orange Prize in Paris.

Retelling the Kendal story was a particularly emotional experience for the graphologist/author. “My father lost 14 members of his family at Kendal,” she recalls. ‘Mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins. Not one of them was returned in one piece to Kingston for burial.”  The author refers to the carnage at the scene of the derailment, where body parts lay entangled with fragments of twisted metal, rendering identification difficult.

“We were living in England at the time – I lived in the house with my father and he never mentioned it. I think the pain of that loss was too much to bear so he swallowed his pain and got on with his life. I was 18 when I found out, and every time I went to Jamaica I found myself drawn to the archives to find out more. The more I learned, the more the information gnawed away at me. I really started writing this story, Reaper of Souls, over 20 years ago, and stopped when it became too painful, too difficult, and I knew so little about Jamaica because I was raised in the UK. I wrote Finding Mr. Write because I knew about handwriting and what it could reveal.”

The success of that first book, East says, gave her the courage and the confidence to go back and tackle the story of Kendal again.

She will be returning to South Florida by special request to offer a treat for the holidays: On December 13, she will be conducting a handwriting seminar titled “What Makes You Tick” before her book signing session.

Friends in Florida include the alumnae associations of several prominent Jamaican high schools, interested in giving the fruits of the graphologist’s skill through holiday gifts certificates.

“I already had her analyse my handwriting,” recalls Francine Matthews of Ocoee, “and I was intrigued, for it was right on target, and it increased my self-awareness. This time she’ll be here for my friends.”

East lives in Washington DC, just a few minutes away from the landmark where the US President-elect and his family will be in residence come Inauguration Day. Asked about the prospect of being in such close proximity to the White House and the chance that there may be a need for her expertise, Beverley laughs heartily. “There is always that possibility,” she says, her telltale British accent sharply eclipsing the laid-back Jamaican tones. “I feel very blessed with the work and the opportunities that have come my way and will continue to come.”

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