AmblesideOnline: A New Handwriting for Teachers

by Monica Bridges, published 1898

Instructions How Children Should Use the Copies

Write on ordinary 'sermon paper,' which is ruled with faint lines about 5/16 of an inch apart, making the short letters the height of a space. If small children have difficulty in making letters this size, use a lesser space to start with. It is important that pens, ink and paper should consort well; a pen that suits one paper writes ill on another, or with different ink. Generally speaking, a fairly yielding, broad nib, as a J, a broad 'ladies'' pen, or quill, with freely flowing ink on intermediate paper, neither rough nor smooth, works best.

Enough has been written and said about the position of the hand in writing: I would only recall the old traditional rule of two fingers on the pen, which seems to have been founded on experience and not without reason; and also insist on thick down-strokes: any thickness in the horizontal part of the stroke betrays a wrong position of the pen.

The capital alphabet is given first, but children begin of course with the small letters, and the fourth plate will show the order in which it is most convenient to teach these: the simple strokes of which the letters are composed should be first learned, and after each stroke the resultant letters, which, on this plate, are simplified for the beginner. When these are mastered, the more varied and difficult forms of the third plate can be learned. In this small alphabet, a few of the letters have two or three variant forms; in some cases these are merely alternatives and can be used according to taste; others are for distinct use, as initials or finals, etc.

The variants are as follows:--
d: the second is only for use as a final; i.e. at the end of words: see plate 5.
e: three forms of this letter: the first is begun from below and is to be used when following a letter which ends with a stroke rising from below, such as h: see he on plate 5: the second e and third e follow letters the last stroke of which ends high; the third e is made in two strokes; see be and oxen on plate 5.
f: the two forms can be used indifferently, but see of on plate 5.
j, k, p, q, z: either form of these five letters may be used, but the first form in every case implies a careful and somewhat ornamental style, and the simpler forms are better for quick writing.
s: the nearer the small s keeps to the form of the capital the better, but it becomes modified when joined with other letters; the way to join it will be found on plate 5.
t: either form may be used at pleasure.
v, w: the first form given of each of these letters can only be used to begin words: see vow on plate 5.
x: how to join this letter, see oxen on plate 5.

The double letters are only suggestions, but such small varieties add interest to the appearance of manuscript.

Of the capitals, where there could be any doubt as to how they are to be formed, I have shown the construction on plate 5: in the case of B, D, E, M and Q, the black line indicates the first stroke; the dotted, the second.

At the end of the capital alphabet will be found a few alternative forms. A, D, the first E, F, O, P and T may be useful as being written in one stroke. The second alternative E, though necessitating three strokes, can be made very quickly by one continuous flowing motion of the pen, see plate 5, where the whole passage of the pen is shown by the line which it would make if not raised off the paper. The alternative S is optional.

On plate 5, I have given a set of Arabic numerals.

Plate 6, 'All the ways of life,' shows the letters, without modification, combined into words, and it may be used as a copy; but it should be remembered that the curves are too much rounded by the engraver.

The next three plates, 7, 8 and 9, will show what the script is like when it approaches a current hand. They are in fact reproductions of the hand, which the New Handwriting is intended to teach; any one who adopts it will, knowingly or unknowingly, modify it, and it must be considered as the only possible or indeed best outcome of the forms on which it is founded.

--M. M. Bridges

In response to the continuing demand, the present edition is issued, in the form of plates. One caution may be added--Children's copies of the 'New Handwriting' often show undue exaggeration of the ornamental parts of letters. The teacher must lead the child to see for himself (by comparing various forms of one letter) what is the essential part, and must insist on the correctness of this; at the same time showing that the ornamental parts are optional and variable.

The whole set of ten cards with instructions, can be had of any bookseller, price 4/6: or separate plates, 5d. each: instructions separately, 6d.

Schools may refer for educational terms to the Author, Chilswell, near Oxford.

N.B. At the request of a friend, a new plate of simple capitals (No. 10) has been added for beginners, price 5d.

The remainder of the book features ten stiff, thick pages, pictured below, for students to copy as examples. Click on an image to see a larger version. You can download a .pdf file of this book at Destination Home's website. (Thank you, Deborah Miller, for providing images of this book, and for permission to post them here!)

Plate 1  Plate 2  Plate 3  Plate 4  Plate 5
Plate 6  Plate 7  Plate 8  Plate 9  Plate 10

From Home Education (Volume 1) by Charlotte Mason, pages 236-238:

"A 'New Handwriting.'--Some years ago I heard of a lady who was elaborating, by means of the study of old Italian and other manuscripts, a 'system of beautiful handwriting' which could be taught to children. I waited patiently, though not without some urgency, for the production of this new kind of 'copy-book.' The need for such an effort was very great, for the distinctly commonplace writing taught from existing copy-books, however painstaking and legible, cannot but have a rather vulgarising effect both on the writer and the reader of such manuscript. At last the lady, Mrs Robert Bridges, has succeeded in her tedious and difficult undertaking, and this book for teachers will enable them to teach their pupils a style of writing which is pleasant to acquire because it is beautiful to behold. It is surprising how quickly young children, even those already confirmed in 'ugly' writing, take to this 'new handwriting.'"

This book was used in PNEU Forms I, II, III and IV (grades 1-9) for many years. AO wishes to thank Deborah Miller for these page images.