History and background of chinese characters

Are there any good books out there on the history and background of Chinese characters.

I remember reading here in the forums about a tip for a specific book but I cannot find that post anymore.

A good introduction to the topic is the chapter on Chinese in Visible Speech: The Diverse Oneness of Writing Systems, by John DeFrancis.

Recommended works on history and background of Chinese characters

I assume you want to read a non-scholarly introduction, in English. Unfortunately, many mass-marketed books on this topic (nicely produced coffee table books or cartoon-illustrated paperbacks) are full of erroneous general characterizations of the language, and the etymologies of individual characters are based on out-of-date works, failing to incorporate the last 100 years of scholarship and bronze and oracle bone research, or are cartoon-illustrated spin-ups of folk etymology, weaving enjoyable but VERY often inaccurate stories which seem suitable only ideal for teaching children, or for mnemonic purposes.

Other works, by expert paleographers, are too technical for the laity, and the best information on individual characters is scattered throughout hundreds of journal articles, conference papers or monographs, or expensive scholarly books in Chinese. As a result, it


Thanks a lot to both of you for your input and expecially to Dragonbones for your long answer.

I think I will follow your advice and go for DeFrancis.