This word I found on page 61 of “Murder in Grub Street” by Bruce Alexander. It appears to be the second in a series of Sir John Fielding mysteries. I have read one other and enjoyed it. This one is as good or better, though with denser story and a more involved writing style.
Amanuensis… From the context I would assume that it meant a person who writes things down, rather like a scribe or a scrivener. Not one who makes up what should be written, like a poet or a novelist (found a great poem on that), but who writes, like taking dictation.
I looked it up and found it to have been the word of the day at Dictionary.com in April of 2005.
amanuensis \uh-man-yoo-EN-sis\, noun:
A person employed to take dictation or to copy manuscripts.
The chore of actually writing the words in the end fell to a hand-picked amanuensis.
— Austin Baer, “River of Desire”, Atlantic, October 1996
On this blue day, I want to be
nothing more than an amanuensis
to the birds, transcribing all the bits
and snatches of song riding in on the wind.
— Barbara Crooker, “Transcription (Poem)”, Midwest Quarterly, March 22, 2003
When it comes to literature, the French count the largest number of Nobel Prizes; their authors include one who wrote a whole book without using the letter ‘e’ and another who, suffering from ‘locked-in syndrome’ after a severe stroke, dictated a memoir by blinking his eye as an amanuensis read through the alphabet.
— Jonathan Fenby, France on the Brink
Amanuensis comes from Latin, from the phrase (servus) a manu, “slave with handwriting duties,” from a, ab, “by” + manu, from manus, “hand.”
Note: France on the Brink seems to have been published in 2000 and re-released in 2002. I don’t know why the dictionary.com did not give the date reference for that work, when it did for the other two.
So now, if I can remember how to spell the thing, I have learned a new word.
Additional note: The version of the mystery novel I read was published in November 1996, with the original hardcover having a copyright date of 1995.