The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting

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Macmillan, Nov 27, 2012 - Art - 270 pages
13 Reviews

When Philip Hensher realized that he didn’t know what a close friend’s handwriting looked like (“bold or crabbed, sloping or upright, italic or rounded, elegant or slapdash”), he felt that something essential was missing from their friendship. It dawned on him that having abandoned pen and paper for keyboards, we have lost one of the ways by which we come to recognize and know another person. People have written by hand for thousands of years— how, Hensher wondered, have they learned this skill, and what part has it played in their lives?

The Missing Ink tells the story of this endangered art. Hensher introduces us to the nineteenth-century handwriting evangelists who traveled across America to convert the masses to the moral worth of copperplate script; he examines the role handwriting plays in the novels of Charles Dickens; he investigates the claims made by the practitioners of graphology that penmanship can reveal personality.

But this is also a celebration of the physical act of writing: the treasured fountain pens, chewable ballpoints, and personal embellishments that we stand to lose. Hensher pays tribute to the warmth and personality of the handwritten love note, postcards sent home, and daily diary entries. With the teaching of handwriting now required in only five states and many expert typists barely able to hold a pen, the future of handwriting is in jeopardy. Or is it? Hugely entertaining, witty, and thought-provoking, The Missing Ink will inspire readers to pick up a pen and write.


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Review: The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting

User Review  - Becky - Goodreads

What a delightful book about the "lost" art of handwriting. It makes me want to go buy different nibs and some practice books. As evidenced by the clever title, Hensher is a funny guy and his sarcasm ... Read full review

Review: The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting

User Review  - Steve Losh - Goodreads

This book is... interesting. It's definitely not your standard history book. The book rambles at times, and the writing style is a bit scruffy. There are also random hard-to-read interviews scattered ... Read full review

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About the author (2012)

Philip Hensher is a columnist for The Independent, an arts critic for The Spectator, and one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. He has written one collection of short stories and eight novels, including The Mulberry Empire, King of the Badgers, and The Northern Clemency, which was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. He lives in South London and Geneva.

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