Letters are a tactile written communication traversing centuries and continents, bringing other people, places and times to life with immediacy and personality. Here we celebrate this ancient form of exchange. Send me a handwritten postcard, will you?

Up hill and down dale

Up hill and down dale

Gavin Maxwell chose to live in a remote house on a remote island in Scotland. Here he describes the extraordinary efforts made by the local postman to deliver a telegram, from a heroic sense of duty. Nowadays he would be called a 'key worker'. It reminds me of a long...

My kind of letter

My kind of letter

Love receiving 'real' letters, and so was thrilled to find this beautiful envelope in the letter box, apparently made from an old map. I've come across map-made envelopes before, but they put the map on the inside so the outside was white and you only saw the contour...

For love of a letter

For love of a letter

A letter carried, quite literally, close to the heart, despite the torment its presence provokes. Vasily Grossman's mother died in a ghetto, and having failed to get her out of it while he could, he lived with the sorrow and guilt of her loss. His Life and Fate was...

Mail at last

Mail at last

We forget, swamped as we are with constant connectivity, the past hunger for letters and news when travelling.  I remember a few years in China and Taiwan, before the advent of email, when we would rush from class to our pigeon holes or letter boxes in the hope there...

What is a letter?  A tactile written communication that bridges distance and lasts forever.

Keats’ correspondence

Here are Keats' own aspirations for his letter-writing. Whether he found interesting matter or just made matter interesting, his letters reveal a brilliantly alert, alive, playful, lovable human being. Andrew...

Waiting for the post

Dorothy Wordsworth's journals were written in the closing years of the 18th century and the opening years of the 19th, when the postal system had not evolved to last-mile delivery. ...

For love of a letter

A letter carried, quite literally, close to the heart, despite the torment its presence provokes. Vasily Grossman's mother died in a ghetto, and having failed to get her out of...

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...

The spirit of the letter

Luiz found this beautiful book at our favourite flea market in Geneva. I liked the cover image and title, which echoes the English idea of keeping to ‘the spirit of...

This is the world

Keats was one of the most life-loving people you could hope to meet, grasping with all his force every chance of happiness, even evanescent, and despite being repeatedly assaulted by...

Close to your heart

I've heard of people keeping letters, including under their pillow, but never one permanently about your person.  This letter from the poet and priest George Herbert was so well written...

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...

Pebble pusher

Keats, known as a poet, was also one of history’s great letter writers.  He loved life and seized it even as it slipped away from him, embracing moments of joy centuries...

Up hill and down dale

Gavin Maxwell chose to live in a remote house on a remote island in Scotland. Here he describes the extraordinary efforts made by the local postman to deliver a telegram,...

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