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?

Letters longed for

Letters longed for

Vasily Grossman's translator, Robert Chandler, describes Grossman's letters to and from his mother, all written by himself, in a heart-rending response to the grief of losing her when she died in a ghetto,  Although I have come across letters written but not sent, or...

Letters burned (I)

Letters burned (I)

It always saddens me to learn of letters burned or destroyed; including those we will never see because Jane Austen's sister destroyed them after Jane's death.  Here Edmund de Waal tells us of what may have been an epistolic treasure trove burned by his...

Most reprehensible

Most reprehensible

This charming exchange is from a favourite children's book, discovered and devoured when already a so-called grown up.I liked the child owning up in guilt to a shameful act, and the adult's sneaky response.  Let it be said that Ambrose is a dream uncle who educates...

Postcards from the future

Postcards from the future

Enjoy this charming project which invited children aged 5-12 to design and write postcards from the future, addressed to parents, or a friend, or simply to '2022'.  The gallery of drawings this generated have some common themes, along with the personal messages. I...

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

Most reprehensible

This charming exchange is from a favourite children's book, discovered and devoured when already a so-called grown up.

I liked the child owning up in guilt to a shameful act,...

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...

A letter in the dark

A desperate and yet hopeful act, this.  People throwing letters out of trains taking them to the gulag, trusting that those letters may be found, and found, sent, and sent,...

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...

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...

Red letter day

A red letter day is a holiday or a memorable day, something that might be marked on the calendar in red. For me it’s also a ‘red letter day’ when...

Letters kept, letters destroyed

Given the fragility of letters, it’s astounding how many have survived centuries and even millennia. Added to which it seems quite common for people to have purposely destroyed them, whether...

Stay alive and write

Here is Leonard Bernstein exhorting a friend to take care, stay alive and write back.  This was even before the war, when the 'stay alive' element became more urgent. 

...

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...

Another long letter

Those were the days when conversations at a distance had to be committed to paper, and I like Bronte's preparation for writing a long letter on the grounds that the...

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