Writers of Letters

From Ciaffi, on Etsy

I haven't received a letter in years. I once sent a letter to Bunty, the Enid Blyton-appropriate magazine for little girls who enjoy tales of boarding school girls thwarting crimes. I wrote to its 'Pen-Pal' page.

Unexpectedly, my letter was published, and I had a flurry of paper in reply from all sorts of places that to me seemed to be beyond exotic. I was particularly delighted to receive one on green paper (Green paper! How foreign!) from a Bunty girl in Singapore and I had a pen-pal for a few months after that, I think, until things petered out and we both lost interest in the endeavour.

Pencils, from O-Check, here.

I wonder if little girls still write letters to penpals, or if the very concept is anathema to these new, Internet days when any unknown correspondent is a threat. Benjamin works almost exclusively by email, and can't remember how to lay out a letter. Working in the old-fashioned world of publishing, I send quite a few, but never any away from the office.

In an email, the date is always unforgivingly embedded and it matters not at all where you were when you sent it – you can pick up a reply wherever you are. I haven't received, or sent, a personal letter in years – but I do remember how exciting it is to get one. It made me wonder if simple things, like having your address or general location right-aligned at the top, with the date below, and even the fun of curly flowing cursive, will soon be forgotten.

If anything can encourage me to send a letter, or encourage anyone else whose knowledge of letter and card writing is slowly evaporating, it is having beautiful materials with which to do so.

I imagine letter writing, like blog writing, can have the added benefit of improving writing style. I recently read a fascinating article on the use of cadence in writing, the knowledge of which could do the same, I guess. It is here.


  1. I had one in The Early Times (remember that? and The Funday Times) ... I loved this post. So perfectly put together. x

  2. that's a great article, I also sometimes try to read certain things out as it changes the nature and flow of the writing.

    when I moved to Australia from Israel, my friends and I kept contact via letters. This has transferred to email, but they don't have the same excitement as a letter in the mail.

  3. What a lovely blog, how have I not found it before?! Receiving letters is so magical, it's so sad that it's a dying art form. My sister fell in love when she was in England a few months ago, and every few weeks she receives a love letter. So much more thoughtful and romantic than an email!! I think that we should force ourselves to write a letter once a month, because imagine how happy the person we send it to will be :) xoxo

  4. i think i need to write more letters as well. To be honest, i think for me it all comes down to being a little bit lazy. you're right though, some nice stationary might help :)

  5. Love this post! Thanks so much!! :-) :-)

  6. I love your blog, but this is the first post I've commented on. I have always been a writer of letters- probably inspired by my grandmother, who used to send me weekly letters when I was a young girl, and I loved finding her pretty cards in the mail. Also, as someone with a background in history, I think letters are an extremely important source of information that is quite unfortunately going by the way side. I decided this summer that I was going to conduct a little experiment with myself: to write and send a letter a day (except for Sundays and mail holidays). So far, I have written 75 letters, and have received 10 replies. I keep wondering if my mail carrier has noticed.


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