A mosaic of letters

A mosaic of letters

Referring to the letters between Mary Delany and her beloved sister Anne, Molly Peacock aptly describes them as a paper mosaic, given that Mary more or less invented the art of collage. ‘In a way, Mary’s letters to Anne are a paper mosaick of days and weeks,...
Letters and the lapse of time

Letters and the lapse of time

A moving comment on the effects of time and separation, and the hiatus of news caused by war. Firstly, the sorrow and regret of discovering the death of a loved one after months of silence, only thanks to the efforts of strangers.  Then the question of how many other...
Straight as an avenue of poplars

Straight as an avenue of poplars

When was the last time you received – or wrote – an 18 page letter?  I think I have managed to write one or two in my life and that’s even allowing for my quite large handwriting. What was in this letter, completely covered in a tall, straight hand...
A letter by boat and about a boat

A letter by boat and about a boat

This letter is magical. It is delivered by boat and announces the arrival of another boat at an assignation point. So much promise!  May the whole world seem to be open before you. ‘Tonight a letter by boat from her.  “I have bought us a twenty-foot cutter,...
In mourning

In mourning

In the 19th century, it was customary to use black-bordered paper and envelopes to inform someone of a death.  Here Sebastian finds unused sheets in some forgotten bureau in the vast pile that is Brideshead, and decides to inform his friend Charles of the death of his...
War and letters

War and letters

Letters were a lifeline for people in war, whether fighting it or waiting for someone who was, or simply trying to avoid becoming collateral damage.  So, hard to imagine the communication vacuum this short sentence implies; a population essentially held incommunicado....
A bundle of letters

A bundle of letters

It is now so rare to receive a letter (not talking about bills or other officialese, but real letters) that it’s hard to imagine receiving more than could be read at a sitting, let alone being able to stuff a bundle of them in your bag.  I sorely miss receiving...
A packet of air mail envelopes

A packet of air mail envelopes

You may not have noticed, but air mail envelopes and the corresponding lightweight letter paper are dying out.  I am by now resigned to the decline, and am simply stocking up for the duration.  A while ago a Brazilian friend visited and offered to bring me some...
Letters on a clothes line

Letters on a clothes line

Picasso seems to have had an ambivalent relationship to letters.  He tortured himself by reading tirades from his ex-wife, and here, suspends letters in full view, like clothes on a line, to reproach himself.  For what?  For whatever they accused him of, or for simply...

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