In view of Monday's post, the arrival today of To the Letter: A Journey Through a Vanishing World by Simon Garfield is a happy coincidence, and this book on the history of letter-writing and "what our correspondence reveals about our lives" is one I am greatly looking forward to reading.
While most of the letters I write these days are bread-and-butter ones, it still gives me great pleasure to use good stationery and pen a few lines to a friend, for email is not the same. Similarly, when I receive something handwritten, whether it be a simple postcard* or a longer letter, it is appreciated and enjoyed, and the fact that personal mail of that kind is rare nowadays means it's all the more significant.
"To the Letter tells the story of our remarkable journey through the mail. From Roman wood chips discovered near Hadrian's Wall to the wonders and terror of email, Simon Garfield explores how we have written to each other over the centuries ...
Along the way he delves into the great correspondences of our time, from Cicero and Petrarch to Jane Austen and Ted Hughes (and John Keats, Virginia Woolf, Jack Kerouac, Anaïs Nin and Charles Schulz), and traces the very particular advice offered by bestselling letter-writing manuals.
He uncovers a host of engaging stories, including the tricky history of the opening greeting, the ideal ingredients for invisible ink, and the sad saga of the dead letter office. As the book unfolds, so does the story of a moving wartime correspondence that shows how letters can change the course of a life.
To the Letter is a wonderful celebration of letters in every form, and a passionate rallying cry to keep writing."
*Don't miss the draw to win some postcards!