The Missing Ink by Philip Hensher, released earlier this year is a smart, funny book about the rise and slow death of the art of handwriting; and why it still matters.
The simple pleasure of picking up a pen and writing is a skill that has existed for thousands of years – but that skill is slowly dying. Where once we would have reached for a pen and paper to commit our innermost thoughts to a diary, to send a letter home or to slip a note to a loved one, instead we now stare at tiny screens, typing with our thumbs. And all that typing looks the same.
The Missing Ink is a book about the characters who shaped our handwriting, and how it in turn shaped us. From Victorian idealists, preaching the moral worth of italic copperplate, to great modern educational reformists such as Marion Richardson, throughout history the style in which we write has influence the way we learn, behave and communicate.
But this is also a book about the physical act itself: about the pots of ink, treasured pens and chewable Biros that we used to take for granted, and whether the style of our writing really does reveal anything about our true selves. Hugely entertaining, witty and thought-provoking, The Missing Ink is itself a love letter to the warmest of technologies, and the place it still has in our lives.
To celebrate the launch Pan Macmillan recruited Central Saint Martin’s graduate Shiho Yokoyama, to turn my handwriting into a font. While it may not be same thing as putting pen to paper, it allows us to bring a small part of the art of writing to the digital realm.
If for some reason you would like to use my chicken scratch to compose essays, love poems, or even client emails you can download it here.