The Lost Art of Letter Writing

An ode to the beauty of letter writing.

Letter writing is an art form that has been embedded in human existence since time immemorial, manifesting itself in various ways. In spite of the undoubtedly more convenient methods at our disposal in the modern world, letter writing in my opinion remains one of the most intimate and pleasant means of communication.

Letter writing retains a certain joy of expression which is simply lost in static and monolithic digital communication. So many elements of the letter surrender themselves to individualisation; handwriting, illustration, and the inclusion of accompaniments such as clippings from newspapers or poetry excerpts are all characteristics which cannot be authentically reproduced in any other communicative method.

Many of the world’s prolific literary talents have been avid letter writers, one of the most prominent being Romantic poet John Keats, whose adoring letters to his unattainable lover Fanny Brawne were published several times over.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In my opinion, these musings are one of history’s finest examples of romance. His words would be insignificant had today’s technology been around in the 1800s. One of my (many) favourite quotes by Keats can be found in an 1819 correspondence, wherein he both laments and yearns:

“I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death.”

These words contain an intimacy and insight into the psyche that are suited only to the written letter.

In the 21st Century, it is easy to be blinded by modern technological advancements and to forget what a poignant role letter writing once played in people’s lives. While today letter writing is a novelty of sorts, an anomaly in communication, it was once the most prominent means of connection. Many of life’s grand narratives: birth, marriage, death, and the like, were told via letters. As is clear in the writings of Keats and Brawne, romances once unfurled within the confines of paper and ink and the lamentations of life once scrawled onto a page only to be read by people hundreds of years later.

The permanency of letters, although damaged by unfortunate realities such as misplacement and the natural rotting of paper under certain conditions, is something which is near-impossible in digital communication. Messages, calls, voicemails, and digital photographs are for the most part ephemeral, all meeting the tragic end of being lost to the digital void forever. When cared for properly, this is not a fate which comes to letters. They are moments in time captured for many centuries to come.

Letter writing is not an art form that should be left to rot and is one that certainly still has a place in society today. In my first few months at St Andrews for instance, being away from everyone and everything I know and love for the very first time, letter writing has been one of my greatest joys. I’ve spent many evenings either handwriting or using my typewriter to craft letters to send home to friends and family.

Credit: Pxfuel

I find that I’m able to better articulate my feelings and experiences on paper, and although clichéd, it is certainly a cathartic experience. It is an experience utterly severed from the complications of modern technology – when writing the initial letter, the only components are one’s thoughts, the paper, and the pen. Alongside oral communication, it is one of the most unadorned forms of connection, leaving ample room for unfiltered human thought.

Confined most of the day to my screen for academic purposes, receiving messages from those I love – an occurrence which would usually be a sweet reminder of what I have at home – has sadly turned somewhat barren and empty.

Although I of course still treasure these messages dearly, especially from those such as my lovely 73  year old grandmother who has taught herself to text in order to keep in contact with me more regularly, it is still the loveliest feeling to receive something tangible.

I pen this article from isolation, an experience that, despite the fact I consider myself an introvert, has undoubtedly made me long to be around people. Receiving a sweet letter from my English teacher from secondary school, who is now a dear friend, has been one of the things that has kept me from falling completely into despair. Especially in the current climate, letter writing can help us be with our loved ones without physically being there. A single page of writing can in some ways feel more genuine than hours of talking on the phone.

I end with a quote by American poet Emily Dickinson, which I feel perfectly encapsulates the joy of letter writing on an individual level:

“A letter always seemed to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.”



87 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Letter Writing

  1. I’m impressed, I must say. Actually hardly ever do I encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me inform you, you have got hit the nail on the head. Your concept is excellent; the issue is something that not sufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I’m very completely satisfied that I stumbled throughout this in my seek for one thing regarding this.

  2. I really like what you guys are usually up too. This kind of clever work and reporting! Keep up the excellent works guys I’ve you guys to our blogroll.

  3. Hiya, I’m really glad I have found this info. Today bloggers publish only about gossips and internet and this is actually frustrating. A good site with interesting content, this is what I need. Thank you for keeping this website, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can’t find it.

  4. I do accept as true with all the concepts you have presented for your post. They are really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are very quick for newbies. May you please lengthen them a bit from next time? Thank you for the post.

  5. I am so happy to read this. This is the type of manual that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that’s at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

  6. Thank you for your sharing. I am worried that I lack creative ideas. It is your article that makes me full of hope. Thank you. But, I have a question, can you help me?

  7. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this sort of house . Exploring in Yahoo I finally stumbled upon this website. Studying this info So i’m glad to show that I have a very excellent uncanny feeling I found out just what I needed. I such a lot no doubt will make certain to don’t forget this web site and provides it a look on a relentless basis.

  8. Hello there, I found your web site via Google while searching for a related topic, your website came up, it looks good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  9. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Excellent work!

  10. Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. In any case I’ll be subscribing to your rss feed and I hope you write once more soon!

  11. The other day, while I was at work, my sister stole my iphone and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop, just so she can be a youtube sensation. My apple ipad is now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is entirely off topic but I had to share it with someone!

  12. I cling on to listening to the rumor talk about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the top site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i acquire some?

  13. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I seriously enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.I will always bookmark your blog and will often come back later on. I want to encourage you continue your great posts, have a nice holiday weekend!

  14. Hello, you used to write magnificent, but the last few posts have been kinda boring?K I miss your great writings. Past several posts are just a bit out of track! come on!

  15. Hello there, just became aware of your blog via Google, and found that it is truly informative. I’m going to be careful for brussels. I’ll be grateful for those who continue this in future. Lots of people will probably be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  16. I have read a few good stuff here. Definitely price bookmarking for revisiting. I wonder how so much attempt you place to make this kind of excellent informative web site.

  17. What is CogniCare Pro? CogniCare Pro is 100 natural and safe to take a cognitive support supplement that helps boost your memory power. This supplement works greatly for anyone of any age and without side effects

  18. What Is ZenCortex? ZenCortex is a natural supplement that promotes healthy hearing and mental tranquility. It’s crafted from premium-quality natural ingredients, each selected for its ability to combat oxidative stress and enhance the function of your auditory system and overall well-being.

  19. I discovered your blog website on google and check just a few of your early posts. Continue to maintain up the excellent operate. I just additional up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. Seeking ahead to studying extra from you in a while!…

  20. It¦s really a cool and helpful piece of information. I am happy that you simply shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  21. A lot of thanks for all your valuable effort on this site. My mother loves making time for internet research and it’s simple to grasp why. My spouse and i notice all of the powerful manner you render both interesting and useful tips and hints on this web blog and in addition recommend participation from other people on that article plus our own simple princess has always been being taught a whole lot. Take pleasure in the rest of the year. You are always conducting a tremendous job.

  22. Hmm is anyone else experiencing problems with the images on this blog loading? I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *