When Writing was Fowl

I have thought — pretty often, in fact — of all the great writing that was done with feathers, and I’m stunned, shamed. And usually my mind wanders from there to all the things that people once did with the stuff around them, using everything. And then I think that we’re not that great, really with all our machinery. Voltaire wrote Candide with feathers. Goethe wrote Italian Journey with feathers. Tristram Shandy? Feathers. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Rights of Man, The Magna Carta. Millions of contracts, love letters, business transactions, invoices, notes to perpetrate nefarious plots, deeds… Seriously. The list is staggering. 1200 years of writing with feathers. Pen knives used for pens. Feathers… Quills…


9 thoughts on “When Writing was Fowl

  1. It makes the muscles in my wrists want to run and hide.

    Have you ever served goose? I was getting into that ” olden days ” cooking thing and discovered that goose is ONE TOUGH BIRD.

  2. When I was a child, my cousin lived on a working farm maybe a mile and a half from me. One of the things we’d do would be to take the quills from a bird who had the misfortune of being dinner that day and carve quill pens. He got quite good at it. I think he actually wrote a history report with quill pens he’d made.

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