Posted in Miscellany

handwriting is history

One might consider handwriting as a technology — a way to make letters — and conclude that the way of making them is of little moment. But handwriting is bound up with a host of associations and connotations that propel it beyond simply a fine-motor skill. We connect it to personal identity (handwriting signals something unique about each of us), intelligence (good handwriting reflects good thinking) and virtue (a civilized culture requires handwriting).

A fascinating look at the history of handwriting, social values about it, and erroneous assumptions. It made me think twice about how I approach my kids’ schoolwork.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

2 thoughts on “handwriting is history

  1. Very interesting. And yet oddly enough, one of the things I discovered this year was that children tend to write better, more coherent sentences by hand than on the keyboard. My son was tested because his handwriting is atrocious, and there was an option for him using a computer in his exams this summer. What we found was that he wrote much better by hand and he was quite conscious he was producing nicer more grammatical sentences with a pen. And then I realised that I see this a lot in the university students who are struggling with essay writing. That ability to go back and edit a sentence on the screen often makes for really discontinuous narratives. There also seems to be some sort of musicality that gets expressed through the body and makes for more rhythmical sentences. It was all quite surprising and curious!

  2. That’s so interesting Litlove. I’ve wondered if the long sentences in Victorian literature, with all their sub-clauses, are partly a result of writing manuscript by hand instead of typing.

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