Writing by hand is something that has shaped and revealed our humanity for thousands of years. In a world where people are increasingly swapping pens, letters and love-notes for typing text messages with their thumbs, The Missing Ink is itself a love letter to the lost art of handwriting – as a cultural artefact, an expression of our individuality and as a craft in itself.
Novelist Philip Hensher traces the rise and rise of handwriting in the 19th and 20th centuries, as wider education brought this most individual of skills to the masses. We meet the passionate early evangelists of fine writing, such as Platt Rogers Spencer, who travelled to every corner of America preaching the moral worth of copperplate; and the great educational reformers such as Marion Richardson, who had a deep understanding of how best children might be taught to write. But this is also a book about ink and pens themselves, objects that are even now beginning to disappear from our homes and offices; and about whether the style of our writing really does reveal anything about our inner selves.
When we can no longer be interested by our friend who writes a little heart over her i's, and no longer have the end of a biro to chew thoughtfully, what will we find to replace it? The Missing Ink is a hugely entertaining, accessible investigation into the warmest of technologies, and the place it had in our lives.