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Handwriting of the Twentieth Century
Now Available
Price £26.50, $35.50
ISBN 9781841501789
Paperback 208 pages
Published December 2007
Imprint: Intellect
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Books by Rosemary Sassoon
Books in Visual Arts
Chapter Titles     |      Reviews     |      Comments

The history of formal calligraphy has been thoroughly documented, and the demise of what people see as beautiful handwriting is frequently deplored, but the details of the teaching of this skill during this century have gone almost unrecorded. Everyday handwriting is ephemeral and school books soon disappear. The main purpose of this book is to create a historical record.

In addition, techniques are illustrated that may be useful for teachers today, while the ever-changing views of the stylists provide examples, as well as a warning, to those who plan for the future.

An individual sample of handwriting reflects the writer’s training, character and environment. Collectively, the handwriting of a population of any period is a reflection of educational thinking, but overall it is influenced and ultimately moulded by economic need, social habits and contemporary taste.

Within the short space of the period covered by this present study, the changing educational policies, economic forces and inevitable technological advances radically altered the priorities and form of handwriting. These changes show in the models and examples throughout this book as an inexorable (though not entirely smooth) journey towards speed and efficiency. The downgrading of skill training and the freeing of children’s creative talent have done the rest. You might say that at the end of the century we have the handwriting we deserve. That statement can be read several ways. It would be a pity to think that our students do not deserve to be taught strategies that enable them to write fast without pain. It might, however, mean that we are edging towards the flexible, efficient, personal handwriting needed to deal with the rapidly changing situation that is likely to face us in the next century.

Chapter titles
Chapter 1: 'The Influences on Contemporary Handwriting: A Historical Perspective' - Page 10
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 2: 'The Turn of the Century' - Page 26
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 3: 'Learning from Copy Books' - Page 36
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 4: 'Simplifying Letterforms' - Page 56
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 5: 'Initiatives and Models from 1930' - Page 70
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 6: 'Educational Attitudes Mid-Century' - Page 92
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 7: 'Stylistic Issues after 1950' - Page 106
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 8: 'Initiatives in the 1960s' - Page 122
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 9: 'From 1970 to the National Curriculum' - Page 134
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 10: 'The End of the Century' - Pgae 146
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 11: 'Handwriting around Europe' - Page 160
Rosemary Sassoon
Chapter 12: 'America and Australia' - Page 182
Rosemary Sassoon
Epilogue - Page 200
Rosemary Sassoon
'This book provides the long- awaited link between the tools and the activity of handwriting. Rosemary Sassoon's comprehensive and enthusiastic research provides a feast of detail about man's constant quest after fluent and clear handwritten script.' – Michael Woods, Journal of the Writing Equipment Society

'The older history of handwriting has been extensively explored, but now we have a wonderfully comprehensive and very readable account of how handwriting has developed and been taught during the twentieth century […] fascinating reading.' – Nigel Hall, Manchester Metropolitan University

'A must for anyone interested in handwriting. [Sassoon] writes the history in such a way that one easily grasps the reasons for the successes and failures of handwriting methods. [This] book will help to improve handwriting instruction throughout the Western world.' – Nan Jay Barchowsky, calligrapher and handwriting specialist

'[An] excellent and comprehensive illustrated book – which takes us through not only what happened in the United Kingdom, but[…] other English speaking countries such as America and Australia as well as European scripts, providing samples and explanations that are valuable as a reference. [...] The book's well-written Epilogue merits a section being printed – It couldn't be put better by a graphologist.' – Elaine Quigley, The Graphologist

'This book is a historical record of techniques, styles and methods. But it also a passionate study of everyday typography, informed by a deep knowledge of her subject. It will be of interest to educationalists, people in teacher training, plus cultural sociologists and historians - as well as typographists and graphologists. ' – Roy Johnston, Mantex

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