The Merits of Penmanship: An Important Part of Victorian and Edwardian Education

The Palmer Method of handwriting

The Merits of Penmanship: An Important Part of Victorian and Edwardian Education

Melina Druga
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Edwardian postcard
The Edwardians took pride in their penmanship

Today, there is debate over whether cursive handwriting should be taught in schools. One vocal camp believes it is no longer necessary. This greatly perplexes me as cursive writing is both faster and easier than print, as the pen must only leave the page between words as opposed to between each letter.

One hundred years ago, despite the invention of the typewriter, learning penmanship was an important part of a person’s education.

Victorian and Edwardian Penmanship

Around the turn of the 20th century, there were rules dictating how letters should be written. There also were rules for penmanship.

Instruction books were written on proper penmanship. The two most popular ones were the Spencerian Method and the Palmer Method.

The Spencerian Method was taught beginning in the mid-19th century. It was characterized by a fancy script that resembled calligraphy. Words were written rhythmically. The Coca-Cola logo is written in Spencerian script.

Spencerian script
The alphabet in Spencerian script

The Palmer Method used a simpler, faster script. The method was used from the late 19th century until well into the 20th century. It was intended to make writing automatic. It also was intended to masculinize handwriting, even if the writer was a woman.

The Palmer Method of handwriting
The Palmer Method of handwriting

Other methods also were devised. The goal was to ensure handwriting was clear and could easily been read by others.

Do you think cursive should still be taught in schools? Leave a comment below.

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Updated: 7 August 2018

Most kids have an active imagination. My imagination has stayed strong into adulthood, and I’ve funneled that creativity into a successful writing career. I write history, both fiction and nonfiction, because although your school history classes may have been boring, the past is not. My goal is to bring the past to life in all its myriad of colors.

2 thoughts on “The Merits of Penmanship: An Important Part of Victorian and Edwardian Education

  1. Yes, I believe cursive should still be taught in school. The very basic thing of writing one’s name is of utmost importance. It is beyond me how anyone can think it is no longer necessary.

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