The lost art of handwriting

Some of you may have seen this post last summer at Austen Authors but I thought it deserved repeating, particularly after reading an article about how libraries are going from printed books to ditigal formats which will ultimately culminate in bookless libraries (I’ll be posting on that soon). No handwriting, bookless libraries… what’s next? So here is my take on handwriting, longhand, cursive.



6 thoughts on “The lost art of handwriting

  1. Nicole P says:

    This is lovely Sally! I write letters to my grandmother and father regularly but you have renewed my desire to write more letters to long distance friends.
    My children luckily do know how to write cursive! I think it’s time they learned the art of thank you notes.
    I am in school to be a librarian and while it is a bit scary with these bookless libraries (the horror!) I am hopeful that there will always be a need for a person that can offer assistance to patrons who need help in research and finding just the right (e) book.

  2. Anji says:

    When I was learning to write, many years ago now, (I was born in1955) we weren’t taught cursive script as such. We were taught how to write the letters of the alphabet in what was termed “small” and “capital” letters but not join them up. That came later and mainly consisted of adding a little flick after most of the letters. There was no real attempt to learn to write words as a continuous process. Whether this was typical of the English school system at the time, I don’t know. From looking at examples I have of their handwriting, my late parents were both taught the cursive style.

    What I do know is that despite or because of this system, my handwriting was later described (at the age of approx. 15) as like a spider crawling over the page. Later comments were along the lines of suggesting I train to be a doctor! As a pharmacist, I know how truly awful some doctors’ handwriting could be and was truly thankful for the advent of the computer age when it comes to prescription writing.

    However, also whilst still at school (now aged around 17), we had to take extra subjects in addition to our core examination subjects. One I took was Art, for the only reason was that it fitted into my timetable. As someone totally without talent in that area it was a bit of a trial but then the teacher offered to teach us how to write “copperplate”. It’s not the same as cursive by any means but does use pens with separate nibs that dip into ink. I even bought my own set to keep up practice after the course finished.

    I now have schizophrenic handwriting. My everyday writing is still the spider stuff (most people I know thank goodness that I mainly communicate by print nowadays) but from time to time, I still get my pen, nibs and ink out for special occasions.

    What would Jane Austen have made of the computer age? Being able to move or replace whole sections of text at the click of a button, replacing all occurences of a name with another? Modern lighting, vast sheets of cheap paper, pens that you don’t have to keep dipping? When you look at it like that, you realise just how much we take our modern conveniences for granted.

    Thanks for this post, Sally. Looking forward to reading your piece about the bookless libraries.

  3. Sheila L. M. says:

    I was born in 1946, not ashamed to admit it. So, of course, I learned cursive but we call it Upper Case and Lower Case rather than small and capital letters. I can only imagine that in the future there will be experts in reading and translating cursive writings b/c no one will be taught such in school. When I was taking Elementary Education courses in my late 40’s at Moravian College, in order to earn a teaching certificate, I remember a debate in class as to the value, or not, of cursive writing lessons. One young male student was adamant that it was useless with the age of computers, etc. Yet I also do calligraphy and so many people compliment me on that. So cursive will become an art form and translating such a specialty.

  4. Janet T says:

    I enjoyed your post and I loved it handwritten! Your penmanship was very good and easy to read! I can remember loving to write with a pen and ink! Since I am not an author I wouldn’t know about writing a book with longhand but I do write all my reviews on paper in script before I do them on the computer. I still like doing that better. I know it is more time consuming but I prefer it. Will I change? I don’t know, but probably not. :)

    Thanks for the post and I look forward to the one on the bookless libraries. That makes me a bit sad as I still love to hold a book. I also enjoy reading on an eReader to but prefer an actual book.

  5. Janet T says:

    I would certainly need to proof better when typing my work! lol

  6. […] The Lost Art of Handwriting – March 2014 […]

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