As a result of one of those strange google glitches when you search for one thing and find something far more interesting instead, I spent a happy hour or so reading about the politics of handwriting. Not the politics OF handwriting as such, but the political and social angst that seems to go along with the style of handwriting that one has oneself and, perhaps even more sensitive, that of one’s children.
I went to a PNEU Prep School in the sixties (Parents National Education Union, following the teachings of Charlotte Mason, now a homeschooling icon I have discovered). Alongside all the regular lessons, we also had lessons which I later discovered, on going to senior school, other children did not: Prepared Dictation, Nature Study, Poetry, From Ur to Rome (Classical studies at age 7!), Bible reading and Handwriting. I loved them all except Handwriting. My writing was diabolical.
We were taught the Marion Richardson method, which involved endless practising of loops and split figures of eights and so on. My best friend still a great friend today some forty years later) had beautiful writing and could produce pages of exquisite loops. I could produce only the erratic scrawl of a dying flea.
Tearfully I went home to my mother and begged her to teach me to write like her. She has a beautiful copperplate hand. So she taught me copperplate. Today my writing does not have the artful turn of the perfect example here, although I can manage a reasonable approximation if I have time. However, it is still distinctively of the copperplate stable and I find that I am, for my generation, almost entirely alone.
The runners and the dancers all use a form of joined up printing, having never been taught anything remotely cursive, let alone as cursive as copperplate. Looking at the writing of several of my contemporaries and most people ten, twenty years younger, it is similar in style.
Perhaps, as we all move towards the keyboard and away from the pen (interestingly, I cannot write in biro, it turns my writing into something quite vile, I write in pencil or fountain pen, perhaps I really am a dinosaur) the art of writing really will die. I do hope not. I love my writing, even if sometimes people find it unfamiliar and so, hard to read. If I have to print I can and will, but I am so glad I was given the chance to learn a beautiful script.