Would you recognize your friend’s handwriting? As technology becomes ubiquitous in communication culture, handwritten letters and notes are less and less common, replaced instead by emails and text messages. Diaries full of handwritten accounts lose out to blog posts, the art of handwriting is dying.
In “The Missing Ink,” author Philip Hensher tells the story of the “endangered” art, going back into handwriting’s history to examine how people learn this skill and what impact it has on their lives. Charming and accessible, Hensher’s book is inspired by the author’s quest to know his own friends’ writing, and to prevent himself and his readers from losing one of the ways we recognize each other.Hensher celebrates the rich history of handwriting, but also the act of writing itself.
With only five states requiring handwriting be taught in schools, is this medium dying? Is the loss of handwriting worth mourning, or should we embrace type for its legibility and ease? With handwriting playing less of a role in expression, will people be judged by what they say regardless of how their writing looks?
Philip Hensher, author of “The Missing Ink” (Faber & Faber), columnist for The Independent, arts critic for The Spectator, and one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists; his other books include “The Mulberry Empire,” “King of the Badgers,” and “The Northern Clemency”;