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david round

the man behind the william hannah notebooks

I am a notebook freak. I love notebooks. But I could not find a notebook that would be as versatile as I wanted. I wanted good quality and I wanted a notebook that would bend to my will. I wanted to add to my notes, change them, and as new ideas came, I wanted a notebook that would give me the opportunity to change my note taking system. And most of all - after having used all sorts of calendar and note taking apps, I wanted to write with a pen on paper.

And then I found the William Hannah notebooks. Everything I wanted was there. No plastic feeling. Luxurious, soft leather that ages beautifully. Pages I could add and take away as I liked - and also pages that motivated me to reach my writing goals. Paper that loved a fountain pen. I love my William Hannah notebooks. And I am sure many others would love them too.  I am not affiliated with William Hannah notebooks. I just think that knowledge of excellent workmanship should be spread far and wide. (Not to mention the unparalleled customer service I have experienced when placing my orders.)

Here is my interview with David Round, the man who invented the notebook. This isn't just a notebook, this is a philosophy. 

1) So many people dream of leaving the corporate hamster-wheel to follow their dreams.
Writers especially dream of the day they could leave their day-jobs
and concentrate on their books,  
I am sure they would love to hear your story.
What gave you the courage to follow your dream? When did you do that? How did that decision make you feel?

My path to leaving the corporate world behind started about 7 years before I actually made the move, so it was wasn’t exactly a spur of the moment decision. It started when I got promoted to the ‘top’ job - my predecessors rarely lasted more than a few years, so I decided to put in place some financial security in case it happened to me. Over time, that became a plan to pay of our mortgage, and then a plan to leave the corporate world behind - I had been pretty unhappy in my job for quite a few years - I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next with my life, but I knew that I didn’t want to be playing corporate politics until I retired. 


About 5 years into my 7 year plan I decided I would become a life-coach after leaving corporate life, and so I enrolled in a course to teach me how to coach. That course changed my life - although I rarely coach these days, the things I learned about my self literally changed my whole perspective on life and started me on the path I am on today. I discovered that I love to learn about personal development, and also that I really want to help love to help other people who might be going through what I went through, and those two things are the foundation on which William Hannah notebooks are built.


2) The WIlliam Hannah notebooks are not just notebooks.
There is a philosophy behind the covers and the pages too. Can you tell about that?



WH notebook / A5 whiskey and kingfisher

As I was leaving my corporate life I started writing and making notes and plans in various notebooks, and I found that it helped me a lot to make sense of my life. However, I was frustrated with the notebooks I was using - there was no way to go back and organise my notes or add extra ideas to the already full pages. Also, I make lots of mistakes and there was no way to remove a page without making a mess of the notebook. I decided I needed a beautiful notebook with replaceable pages and so set out to make my own - and soon realised that if I wanted a notebook like this, then other people must want one too. 


I am quite demanding as a consumer (I'm a big Apple fan) and so I knew that I had to make a beautiful notebook, and it had to be the best possible writing experience I could make. Just like my discovery that I loved to learn about personal development, I also realised that writing helped me a great deal - it helped me to organise my thoughts, make better plans, and I believe that there is nothing better than writing with a fountain pen and a great notebook for discovering what we are really thinking.


3) How are the notebooks made and where? Why did you choose to have them made like this?

The notebooks are made in England by wonderful people who know a lot about working with leather. I don’t think that there is anything wrong with products made in China (all of my beloved Apple stuff is made there after all), but I wanted to work with real people - people I could talk to, share ideas with, and whose experience could guide me, so most of my suppliers are local.


The notebooks are made to last, and the fact that the pages can be replaced means that the cover must be able to last for many years - therefore it seemed that the only choice for the cover was leather. I chose a wonderfully tactile Italian leather because I wanted the notebooks to encourage their owners to write - and with a cover that picks up the nicks and scratches of every day life, I wanted to make something that would only look more beautiful with age. 

WH notebook / A5 bordeaux and petrol

At a fundamental level, I wanted to make notebooks that make you want to write, and I think I succeeded because owners love their notebooks, and my own notebooks seem to call to me from the shelves…..

4) Most writers have a day job, and a family.
How would your pages help them to plan their writing week and achieve their goals in the middle of their busy lives?

WH notebook / A6 Black and navy

It’s funny, but when I started out with our notebooks, I really didn’t want them to have any element of planing or diary, I just wanted writing pages. However, I quickly discovered that a lot of people DID  want the ability to use their notebooks for planning, and so I slowly started to introduce diary pages. That then expanded to include daily pages - pre-dated pages for keeping track of everything that needs to be done on that day  - and other pages like time-trackers and intention pages. I only really introduce pages after I have used them myself for a while - I need to know that they work - but I also know that we each have different needs in terms of what works and what doesn’t.

5) Writing is a lonely job - often people around the writer aren’t encouraging, work and family life drain the energy you’d like to use to fulfil your dream.
How would the William Hannah notebooks help in motivating the creatives to keep on writing?

In addition to making a notebook that was designed to encourage it’s owner to write thanks to it’s wonderfully tactile cover, I deliberately provide pre-dated pages so that it becomes uncomfortable to leave a whole day blank.


Anything worth doing is likely to be difficult - balancing existing commitments (work, family, etc) with something like writing, or in my case making time for personal development, is hard. That's why I get up early and get started before the rest of my life takes over - and there is the added benefit that when you start the day with a personal achievement, the rest of the day seems to go even better.

WH notebook / A5 red chilli and crimson

My favourite notebook pages are our Daily Intention pages. They are designed to guide the owner through a series of intentional questions and actions - some focused on positive experiences and others on setting critical goal-centred tasks for the day. I made a video explaining how they work here - I still use these pages every day myself, and I believe that they have helped me to become more intentional with how I spend my days.

6) How do you use your own notebook?

WH notebook / A5 Deep purple and fuchsia

I have one main notebook (an A5 Black and Kingfisher) and then three more with specific purposes. My main notebook has a section for goals at the front, and then the main section is made up of Daily Intention Pages and Day to a Page (with Timeslots), and then some blank pages for notes at the back. I complete an Intention Page pretty much every day, and then I transfer my critical tasks to a One Day to a Page, along with a list of all of the smaller stuff I have to get done on that day. I can use the timeslots for planning the day if I need to, but the page works equally well without.


As I said above, I have three more A5 notebooks with specific purposes :-


1. Whiskey & Kingfisher - I use this notebook to write my daily pages - I share my thoughts and an accompanying quote every day on Social Media and I’m around 850 consecutive days right now. For anyone struggling to write, I suggest a daily practice like mine, or something like Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages - when you know that you have no choice but to write, it makes the process of ideas so much easier.

2. Black & Navy - I am trying to make this notebook into a study journal, where I make notes as I read (I read a good personal development book for at least 30 minutes each day), but this is very much a work in progress….

3. Whiskey & Petrol - this is my personal journal, where I write down my private thoughts. No-one ever gets to read it, and it never leaves the house.


I also have an A6 Dark Chocolate & Grey notebook that I am trying to build into a commonplace book full of great quotes and ideas. It’s another work in progress….


7) Where can people find the notebooks?
Do you delived worldwide? Do you have a blog as well? A Youtube channel?

WH notebook A6 / Dark chocolate and orange

Unless you attend UK Fountain Pen Shows, the only place to get our notebooks is online at williamhannah.com Under 40% of our customers are in the UK - the rest are across the globe, mainly in Europe and the USA. I love the fact that some middle-aged bloke in England can have conversations with people across the globe, and whilst the digital world can sometimes be a challenge, in other ways it is truly wonderful. If you would like to connect, just search for William Hannah Limited (@williamhannahuk) on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter, and we have a YouTube channel and a dedicated William Hannah User Group on Facebook.


8) Do you have a favourite notebook colour combination? What is the most popular colour people order at the moment? (spring 2018)


I genuinely love all of the combinations, but at the moment I’m in love with the Dark Chocolate custom notebooks we sell - the dark brown seems to go beautifully with everything. The most popular off-the-shelf-combination by far is Whiskey & Kingfisher, but Agave & Petrol seems pretty popular at the moment too.

WH notebook / A5 whiskey and lime

9) I heard rumours that you might be planning on writing your philosophy of encouragement into a book. Is this true?

I’d love to write a book that shares what I’ve learned from my own journey, and provides a framework to help others who might not know where to start. They say that everyone has at least one book within them, and maybe that’s mine….


10) Anything else you’d like to say about pursuing your dreams?

Nothing worth having was ever easy, and I’ll be honest, building a business is a lot more hard work than I ever imagined, and I’m realising that it will take years and years to achieve my goals. BUT it is so worth it - the freedom of being your own boss is the most wonderful and liberating experience….



24 hour time tracker

weekly plan

daily planner

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