The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting Hardcover – November 27, 2012


See all 5 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$3.28 $1.29
12%20Days%20of%20Deals%20in%20Books
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
12 Days of Kindle Book Deals
Load your library with Amazon's editors' picks, $2.99 or less each today only. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; First Edition edition (November 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780865478930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0865478930
  • ASIN: 0865478937
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #412,518 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

While there are no rigorous surveys tracking how many people write personal letters these days, it’s a safe bet that in this era of ubiquitous e-mail and text messaging, letter writing isn’t what it used to be. Partly to encourage readers to take up their pens and partly to indulge his curiosity, acclaimed British novelist Hensher (King of the Badgers, 2011) provides a droll and eclectic tour of handwriting history. Prompted by the realization that he had no idea what a close friend’s handwriting style looked like, Hensher interviewed friends and family about the topic, with amusing and illuminating results. A handful of chapters records their testimony, while the rest of the book is devoted to penmanship styles, famous letter writers, like Dickens and Hitler, and the pseudoscience of handwriting analysis. With his novelist’s gift for shimmering prose, Hensher may be just the man to inspire a public handwriting revival. If not, his work is a fitting tribute to a dying art that, with voice recognition software now approaching human proficiency, may be poised to disappear forever. --Carl Hays

From Bookforum

In The Missing Ink, Hensher unearths some of the sadistic, stylish, and occasionally sympathetic attempts to teach penmanship to generations of reluctant European and American children. —Jennifer Howard

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By D_shrink VINE VOICE on January 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book begins as a memoir on personal communication through handwriting and the various instruments used for doing it, and how it and they have morphed into our modern age.

The author's essential point is that the current state of handwriting is a far cry from what it once was. He then goes into an explanation of some of the earliest forms of writing instruments from the quill, to the fountain pen, the cartridge or refillable pen, and the advent of the roller-ball pen popularized by BIC, and let us not forget the pencil, but that does not really enter into formalized writing except as device with which to practice.

The book gets a little slow in the second half but the author has a certain dry wit and panache in explaining a subject you can tell he feels is important.

In talking about printing styles the author gives a lengthy lecture on Copperplate and notes that it was employed more for aesthetics than as a truly functional writing style. The idea was that to be considered fluid in this style of writing implied an uplift of one's moral character; i.e. a lot of practice. :) Then he talks at length about Spencerian script which he feels lead to America's Golden Age of Penmanship which he defines as the years 1850-1925. He felt that the real aim of the writing styles of the past was to restrain society by making them think there was only one of writing and if they did it any other way, they were simply doing it wrong. Of course as we learn from this work and from an earlier work called Script and Scribble Script and Scribble: The Rise and Fall of Handwriting, which the author mentions in several places and which I can also heartily recommend.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Acorn on February 20, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Every age sees some technology disappear, either to become irrelevant or to be replaced by another. In the past century we have seen an extraordinary shift in the way we write and communicate with each other. Handwriting, once the most common form of written communication, is now a minority activity. Philip Hensher realises that he has known a friend for well over a decade but has no idea what his friend's handwriting looks like. Everyone can identify with that experience, but probably few of us have given it a second thought.

At school I first learnt to print, though even then we pupils knew it was not a `grown up' way to write and we loved to experiment with joining the letters. We eventually received lessons in cursive writing - or `running writing' as we called it - and were taught a form of copperplate. As I moved into teenage I tried to personalise my writing, as did most of my friends, and some of the modifications were done in order to speed up my writing, essential for taking notes in class. Today my script is looped and retains traces of copperplate, but some ascenders have been clipped and several decorative capitals have been simplified in order to speed things along. The most dramatic change has resulted from my learning to touch type over twenty years ago, causing me to largely abandon handwriting other than to take field notes or write cards for special occasions. Paucity of practice has meant my handwriting is now chaotic and less fluid, and I often have to type up written notes within a day or many of the words become illegible to me. My handwriting is also very small, the product of an obsessive teacher who made us all write two lines of script into each printed line in our exercise books in order to save paper.
Read more ›
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lars Wallentin on January 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am a letterwriter myself and reading this essential book I am even more
convinced that if we only type on a computer..we will become more
stupid than we are...the hand needs to work in all directions!
1 Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By VerbRiver on August 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Missing Ink is like reading a long New Yorker article. You feel like you deserve credit for the effort, but do not feel improved by it.

At the core of the book is a single fact capsule: Mr. Hensher likes handwriting. People do much less of it than they used to. He regrets that.

Most everything else is bubble wrap.

The author traces a meandering survey of notable handwriting teachers and their techniques. He offers plentiful doses of autobiography while wobbling along between sarcasm and slices of information. And he spends a large fraction of the book fixated on graphology, the practice of assessing a personality by the way a person forms letters of the alphabet. After what feels like an internal struggle, he eventually indicts graphology as "the occupation of idiots." Since it occupies so much of his interest, one wonders why it took him a full book to reach a verdict.

Perhaps I expected too much or something different. Ultimately, The Missing Ink is book-length lament. The best part is the last chapter he calls "What Is to Be Done?" and for several pages he lists practical measures to help handwriting survive. That would have been enough. The rest of the book is too much about much other.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Alessandro Segalini on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Entertaining, thank you Mr Hensher.
I'm surprised that the monumental book "The Stroke: Theory of Writing" by Gerrit Noordzij is not cited anywhere, neither is Robert Bringhurst's "What Is Reading For".
Here is a passage from Noordzij's I'd like to share: Any writing of any civilization begins with the stroke, and the stroke is made with the tool, and if you have a stiff tool, then the shape of the tool dominates the character of your writing, and with a soft tool the impulse of your hand dominates the writing.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews


What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?