Why Write: Putting Pen to Paper

Old writing

Roaming the Selby Library in Sarasota, FL the other day, I spotted a book that stopped me in my tracks: Pedro Corrêa do LagoTrue to the Letter, 800 Years of Remarkable Correspondence, Documents and Autographs. “Every letter, even the most insignificant, is a touching relic of the person who wrote it – a tangible link that defies the passage of time,” he writes. “Holding it in your hands is unquestionably the closest contact you can possibly have if the person is no longer with us.” My sentiments exactly! And today, only a handful of schools in the U.S. teach handwriting. For shame! More on this later…

Here, from the book, a sampling of  handwriting from the past (starting from top left): Auguste Rodin’s “visiting card” with drawings, 1880; Alfred Hitchcock’s signed self-portrait, 1970; a letter from Russia’s Catherine the Great, written in French, 1795 (also background). The aérogramme from France is not from the book, but isn’t it also a “touching relic?”  Who sends aérogrammes today, letters or postcards for that matter? Me.

But wait, there’s still more. In June, at Sotheby’s you can bid on a collection of  William Faulkner letters. Love this: According to The NY Times, letters and postcards, circa 1925, that Faulkner penned from Paris to his parents and signed “Billy” often included his ink drawings. Priceless.

And this is pretty great – a guy named Harald is trying to create a font “that renders Sigmund Freud’s handwriting on your computer.” It’s his 4th typography project on something called Kickstarter. Check it out at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/201030759/sigmund-freud-typeface-a-letter-to-your-shrink?ref=NewsMar2213&utm_campaign=Mar22&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter. Thanks to my brother-in-law Bill for sending the item my way.

2 thoughts on “Why Write: Putting Pen to Paper

  1. I love what you have to say here, Pamela. An 87-year-old friend recently asked me, “If they’re not teaching cursive in the schools any more, how will future generations read the historical documents of all generations past?” Beats me. We’ll have to have specially trained cursive professionals.

  2. It is so interesting that my younger kids (8 and 12) don’t know how to write in cursive. My son (14) does as he was taught in second grade – he wrote in cursive in all of his assignments up until last year, when no one could read it!

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