Pangrammatic Windows

A pangrammatic window is a sequence of consecutive letters which contains all of the 26 letters of the alphabet at least once.

One might ask what the shortest such window is in "naturally" occuring text, i.e., text not specifically written with the intention of creating short pangrammatic windows.

With help of a simple Perl program (like this one), and electronic texts from Project Gutenberg, anyone can search for pangrammatic windows.

Below are some examples, listed from shortest to longest. The length counts letters only, not punctuation or spaces. Each represents the shortest pangrammatic window in the particular book. Of course, longer books are likely to have shorter pangrammtic windows.

This all suggests a statistical analysis to determine if these examples of pangrammatic windows are exemplary (i.e., much shorter or longer than would be expected by the length of the text).

From Louisa May Alcott's Little Women, length 85:

"No, sir. She has had some experience, and got a prize for a tale in the Blarneystone Banner."
"Oh, did she?" And Mr. Dashwood gave Jo a quick
look, which seemed to take note of everything she had on, from the bow in her bonnet to the buttons on her boots.

From George Gould and Walter Pyle, Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine, length 93:

Wiesman, in 1893, reported a rhinolith, which was composed of a cherry-stone enveloped in chalk, that had been removed after a sojourn of sixty years, with intense ozena as a consequence of its lodgment.

From Dostoevsky's The Idiot, length 108:

But Lizabetha Prokofievna knew perfectly well how unnecessary was the last question. She set a high value on Alexandra Ivanovna's judgment, and often consulted her in difficulties; but that she was a 'wet hen' she never for a moment doubted.

From Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, length 108:

You wrote this to make dissension between me and my family, and for that object added coarse expressions about the conduct of a girl whom you don't know. All that is mean slander."

"Excuse me, sir," said Luzhin, quivering with fury.

From Volume 10 of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, length 109:

The second point is really a historical one. Psychiatrists are often asked, "Was Joan of Arc crazy?" "Was Saint Louis a dementia praecox?" In an endeavor to answer such questions wise books have been written detailing the "psychoses" of historic or religious leaders.

From Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, length 112:

All the boys would join, I was sure of that; so, all existing grants would be relinquished; that the newly born would always join was equally certain. Within sixty days that quaint and bizarre anomaly, the Royal Grant, would cease to be a living fact, and take its place among the curiosities of the past.

From Francis Rebelais' (translation by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty and Peter Antony Motteux) Gargantua and Pantagruel, length 112:

Oh, oh! returned Double-fee, that plump one is of the treasury, the very best growth in the whole country. Whenever anyone of that growth is squeezed, there is not one of their worships but gets juice enough of it to soak his nose six months together.

From Charles Dickens' Little Dorritt, length 113:

'Why, mother, no,' returned Mr Meagles, 'not exactly there. I can't quite leave it there; I must say just half-a-dozen words more. Mrs Gowan, I hope I am not over-sensitive. I believe I don't look it.'

From Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscrure, length 115:

In the meantime the more exceptional couple and the boy still lingered in the pavilion of flowers--an enchanted palace to their appreciative taste--Sue's usually pale cheeks reflecting the pink of the tinted roses at which she gazed; for the gay sights, the air, the music, and the excitement of a day's outing with Jude had quickened her blood and made her eyes sparkle with vivacity.

From Edward Carpenter's Pagan and Christian Creeds: Their Origin and Meaning, length 118: (note that this example includes a section heading, which is a bit of a cheat)

This festival of the Purification of the Virgin corresponds with the old Roman festival of Juno Februata (i. e. purified) which was held in the last month (February) of the Roman year, and which included a candle procession of Ceres, searching for Proserpine. (F. Nork, Der Mystagog.)


The Vernal Equinox has all over the ancient world, and from the earliest times, been a period of rej
oicing and of festivals in honor of the Sungod.

From William Osler's The Evolution Of Modern Medicine, length 121:

Boyle, Cavendish, Priestley, Lavoisier, Black, Dalton and others had laid a broad foundation, and Young, Frauenhofer, Rumford, Davy, Joule, Faraday, Clerk-Maxwell, Helmholtz and others built upon that and gave us the new physics and made possible our age of electricity. New technique and new methods have given a powerful stimulus to the study of the chemical changes that take place in the body, which, only a few years ago, were matters largely of speculation.

From Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, length 127:

They had the gun, by this time, slewed round upon the swivel, and Hands, who was at the muzzle with the rammer, was in consequence the most exposed. However, we had no luck, for just as Trelawney fired, down he stooped, the ball whistled over him, and it was one of the other four who fell.

From Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, length 130:

They no sooner heard the cry, and saw Oliver running, than, guessing exactly how the matter stood, they issued forth with great promptitude; and, shouting 'Stop thief!' too, joined in the pursuit like good citizens. Although Oliver had been brought up by philosophers, he was not theoretically acquainted with the beautiful axiom that self-preservation is the first law of nature.

From Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, length 140:

'I wish with all my soul I had been better guided!' he exclaimed. 'I wish with all my soul I could guide myself better!'

There was a passionate dejection in his manner that quite amazed me. He was more unlike himself than I could hav
e supposed possible.

From Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, length 140:

Southward of the Asiatic continent, on the opposite side of the equator, we know, from the excellent researches of Dr. J. Haast and Dr. Hector, that in New Zealand immense glaciers formerly descended to a low level; and the same plants, found by Dr. Hooker on widely separated mountains in this island tell the same story of a former cold period.

From Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop, length 143:

Under this title the Marchioness repaired, in tears, to the school of his selection, from which, as she soon distanced all competitors, she was removed before the lapse of many quarters to one of a higher grade. It is but bare justice to Mr Swiveller to say, that, although the expenses of her education kept him in straitened circumstances for half a dozen years, he never slackened in his zeal, and always held himself sufficiently repaid by the accounts he heard (with great gravity) of her advancement, on his monthly visits to the governess, who looked upon him as a literary gentleman of eccentric habits, and of a most prodigious talent in quotation.

From The Bible, length 148:

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

From Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibiliy, length 151:

Mr. Harris, who attended her every day, still talked boldly of a speedy recovery, and Miss Dashwood was equally sanguine; but the expectation of the others was by no means so cheerful. Mrs. Jennings had determined very early in the seizure that Marianne would never get over it, and Colonel Brandon, who was chiefly of use in listening to Mrs. Jennings's forebodings, was not in a state of mind to resist their influence.

From Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno, length 151:

"Well, suppose it," said the Earl. "My theory meets that case, I assure you! A never finds out that it is rubbish, but maunders on to the end, trying to believe he's enjoying himself. B quietly shuts the book, when he's read a dozen pages, walks off to the Library, and changes it for a better! I have yet another theory for adding to the enjoyment of Life--that is, if I have not exhausted your patience? I'm afraid you find me a very garrulous old man."

From Jane Austin's Emma, length 154:

"Ah!" he cried, "I wish your father might be half as easily convinced as John will be, of our having every right that equal worth can give, to be happy together. I am amused by one part of John's letter-- did you notice it?--where he says, that my information did not take him wholly by surprize, that he was rather in expectation of hearing something of the kind."

From Bram Stoker's Dracula, length 154:

Some of the `New Women' writers will some day start an idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other asleep before proposing or accepting. But I suppose the `New Woman' won't condescend in future to accept. She will do the proposing herself. And a nice job she will make of it too! There's some consolation in that. I am so happy tonight, because dear Lucy seems better. I really believe she has turned the corner, and that we are over her troubles with dreaming. I should be quite happy if I only knew if Jonathan. . .God bless and keep him.

11 August.--Diary again. No sleep now, so I may as well write. I am too agitated to sleep. We have had such an adventure, such an agonizing ex
perience. I fell asleep as soon as I had closed my diary. . . Suddenly I became broad awake, and sat up, with a horrible sense of fear upon me, and of some feeling of emptiness around me. The room was dark, so I could not see Lucy's bed. I stole across and felt for her. The bed was empty.

From H. G. Well's The Wheels of Chance: A Bicycling Idyll, length 159:

The other cyclist in brown had a machine of dazzling newness, and a punctured pneumatic lay across his knees. He was a man of thirty or more, with a whitish face, an aquiline nose, a lank, flaxen moustache, and very fair hair, and he scowled at the job before him.

From Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, length 163:

His spirit could never, I conceive, have been characterized by an uneasy activity; it must, at any period of his life, have required an impulse to set him in motion; but once stirred up, with obstacles to overcome, and an adequate object to be attained, it was not in the man to give out or fail. The heat that had formerly pervaded his nature, and which was not yet extinct, was never of the kind that flashes and flickers in a blaze; but rather a deep red glow, as of iron in a furnace.

From Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, length 166:

I couldn't hardly get my words out, I was so anxious; but I told Tom as quick as I could we must jump for it now, and not a minute to lose--the house full of men, yonder, with guns!

His eyes just blazed; and he says:

"No!--is that so? AIN'T it bully! Why, Huck, if it was to do over again, I bet I could fetch two hundred! If we could put it off till--"

From Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, length 170:

He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind. He told me I might judge of the happiness of this state by this one thing - viz. that this was the state of life which all other people envied; that kings have frequently lamented the miserable consequence of being born to great things, and wished they had been placed in the middle of the two extremes, between the mean and the great; that the wise man gave his testimony to this, as the standard of felicity, when he prayed to have neither poverty nor riches.

From H. G. Well's The Time Machine, length 177:

The tiled floor was thick with dust, and a remarkable array of miscellaneous objects was shrouded in the same grey covering. Then I perceived, standing strange and gaunt in the centre of the hall, what was clearly the lower part of a huge skeleton. I recognized by the oblique feet that it was some extinct creature after the fashion of the Megatherium.

From Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, length 178:

After a slight repose, during which the spirits of the dead hovered round and instigated me to toil and revenge, I prepared for my journey.

I exchanged my land-sledge for one fashioned for the inequalities of the frozen ocean, and purchasing a plentiful stock of provisions, I departed from land.

I cannot guess how many days have passed since then, b
ut I have endured misery which nothing but the eternal sentiment of a just retribution burning within my heart could have enabled me to support.

From Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, length 181:

Dinner went off gaily, and, although my guardian seemed to follow rather than originate subjects, I knew that he wrenched the weakest part of our dispositions out of us. For myself, I found that I was expressing my tendency to lavish expenditure, and to patronize Herbert, and to boast of my great prospects, before I quite knew that I had opened my lips. It was so with all of us, but with no one more than Drummle: the development of whose inclination to gird in a grudging and suspicious way at the rest, was screwed out of him before the fish was taken off.

From Thomas Holmes' London's Underworld, length 192:

How inane and silly their conversation is! Sometimes a whim comes upon them, and one runs for a few yards; the whim takes possession of others, and they do exactly the same. One seizes another round the body and wrestles with him. Immediately the others begin to wrestle too; their actions are stereotyped, silly and objectionable, even when they do not quarrel.

From Lucy Larcom's A New England Girlhood Outlined From Memory, length 195:

But her difficulties were increasing, and I thought it would be a pleasure to feel that I was not a trouble or burden or expense to anybody. So I went to my first day's work in the mill with a light heart. The novelty of it made it seem easy, and it really was not hard, just to change the bobbins on the spinning-frames every three quarters of an hour or so, with half a dozen other little girls who were doing the same thing.

From Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, length 220:

A moment later the youth saw the general bounce excitedly in his saddle.

"Yes, by heavens, they have!" The officer leaned forward. His face was aflame with excite- ment. "Yes, by heavens, they 've held 'im! They 've held 'im!"

He began to blithely roar at his staff: "We 'll wallop 'im now. We 'll wallop 'im now. We 've got 'em sure." He turned suddenly upon an aid: "Here--you--Jones--quick--ride after Tompkins --see Taylor--tell him t' go in--everlastingly-- like blaz

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