Is there anything nicer than receiving a handwritten, thought filled letter in the post? Not the usual brown envelope sort or the begging kind, but one that somebody has taken the time and effort to think through, write out, put in an envelope and then post off to you? Yes, we’ve had email since 1971 and it now rules our daily lives, but the effort required to actually hand write a note remains special. With email you can draft, re draft and then click send and get an instantaneous response, but ‘snail mail’ delivers a more personal and physical touch.
The art of letter writing dates back centuries, we know from history that the Romans were avid writers, so why today are we losing this skill? Are we too rushed in our day to day lives that we just don’t have time to write, or are we becoming too lazy preferring the instant gratification of text, Twitter and email? Have we simply fallen out of love with letters? Letters can bring such great joy and escapism (think troops serving away from home, long distance lovers, pen pals of childhood that carry through to adulthood friendships), the writer has the pleasure of selecting stationery, taking the time and effort to organise their thoughts into a flowing passage of prose, the excitement of posting their thoughts off to the recipient and awaiting return news. What’s not to love about that? One of Mrs N’s oldest friends now lives in the US, and, as lovely as it is to Skype and email and exchange snaps online of their kids, nothing compares to the happiness a letter or card from her brings.
Both Mrs N and Mrs W follow @lettersofnote on Twitter, which is a fascinating, curated, constantly changing archive of insight into (yep, you guessed it) letter writing. The letters and memos are varied in theme, decade, style, author (famous and mere mortals) and often tug at the imagination long after reading. Shaun Usher, the curator of the website and Twitter feed has just published a collection of these letters in a book (yes please Santa!), next time you’re passing the book shop, have a peek and remind yourself why pen to paper can be a real an art form.
Do you still write and send letters and cards to friends and loved ones by snail mail or are the only letters you now send ones to big corporations and the like? Are you firmly in the electronic camp? Let us know!