If you’re old enough to remember Clarissa Explains It All, chances are you remember the feeling of frustration that first-grade you felt sitting atop a plastic red or yellow chair, pencil clenched between your fingers as you struggled to form the 26 letters of the alphabet in cursive. But along with Melissa Joan Hart’s primetime acting career (I love you, Melissa, but starring in My Fake Fiance in 2009 doesn’t count), cursive has become close to defunct. And that’s not all: Recently everyone has been up in arms over the fact that seemingly all handwriting is almost obsolete when it comes to the classroom.
Here at The Airship and Black Balloon Publishing, we wouldn’t consider ourselves old school (case in point: We know more about Tumblr than your grandma does), but there’s something about being able to write by hand that just feels right. Maybe it’s because some of our all-time favorite writers (like the ones listed below) used penmanship to express themselves, whether through their correspondence or even their actual manuscripts. Many famous authors, in fact, still pick up a pen and paper when it comes time to compose their literary work.
In defense of handwriting and in honor of National Ballpoint Pen Day, here’s a list of 12 authors’ penmanship in all its glory. To get you started, here’s a list of all the authors whose samples are included: Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Lewis Carroll, Fyodor Dostoevsky, James Joyce, Franz Kafka, H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Jules Verne, Oscar Wilde. Good luck!
Were you able to guess which handwriting belonged to each author? Were you thrown off by anyone’s near-perfect or indecipherable penmanship? Weigh in below, and post your score for eternal glory!
Be sure to tell us your thoughts on the handwriting debate, too. Is all penmanship irrelevant or just cursive? Are you a writer who still has to jot your ideas down in ink in order to work through plot details? We want to know!
Adina Applebaum is Michigan native studying English and creative writing at Barnard College. Her crowning achievements in life are memorizing all the lyrics on The Slim Shady LP and eating an entire gallon of chocolate-covered raisins during orientation week of college.
(Image Credits, from top: Wikimedia, The Morgan Library & Museum, The Morgan Library & Museum, Harvard Magazine, Collect Space, Rosenbach Museum & Library, Project Gutenberg, Shelley’s Ghost, Poe Museum, Wikimedia, Wikimedia, Rosenbach Museum & Library, Network Europe)
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