The humble letter…a lost art?

by hannahb21

When did you last send a letter?

Once upon a time, not so long ago, writing a letter was the main form of communication in Britain. However, with the development of technology, letter writing has almost become a lost art form. For most, the only post they receive is bills and few look forward to hearing the postman’s approach. If something needs to be said then the majority of the general public would prefer to pick up the phone, send a text or go on facebook chat. I must admit to being a regular ‘facebooker’ and ‘texter’ but I do occasionally send a postcard or funny card to friends and family and I hope that becomes something to be kept and cherished.

Letters in wartime

Soldiers in the first and second world wars wrote letters to their sweethearts and their nearest and dearest. Books have been published that include these correspondences and original letters are stored in the archives of the imperial war museum. My friend, who wrote her dissertation on the Soldiers of the First World War, and had to study some of these letters and as we both were working in the library together I obviously had a read of said books, more to avoid my work than anything. I found that the language used by these soldiers was exceptionally beautiful and poetic especially considering conditions in which they were existing.

Sending a letter

Since going to university I found a love for writing a letter. When I was in primary school I had a couple ‘pen pals’ but as we got older the letters soon stopped. I felt that it was almost like we were expected to write to each other, I prefer the element of surprise when sending a letter it makes it more special especially if you think that the days post is going to be another bill or bank statement.

I remember sitting at my desk in halls scribbling away a post card to my sister informing her of my new address and how exciting and great university was I then posted it and eagerly awaited its union with Baby Belz.  To my surprise the week later I got a long letter back complete with a funny picture of my sister, a drawing she had done of her hand just in case I missed her. At the end of her letter she wrote ‘I sincerely hope this letter has made you smile a bit, hopefully as much as your card made me grin’, not only did her letter make me smile but it made my day. The letter, complete with additional items, is kept in a big envelope of all other letters we sent to each other.


Making someone’s day

It was at the end of my second year that I realised how much receiving a letter meant to someone. My grandfather fell ill and it was difficult for him to talk on the phone for a length of time, those who know me know I like a chat and do tend to ramble. So to keep him updated on the life of a university student I sent him a card which I managed to cram full with writing. Mum called me that week and said ‘pap said he got a card from you, he really loved it only thing is though he struggled to read the second half as your writing got so squashed’. From then on I started sending him a card or post card at least every other week, trying desperately hard not to make my handwriting completely illegible. What made the writing of the cards etc enjoyable was that he didn’t ever expect any of them to come through the door, each one made him smile.

In my opinion letter writing is one of life’s simple pleasures and I hope that the cards I send to my friends and family make them smile because there is little more I like than writing a letter.

So…grab a pen and a piece of paper and get scribbling away before writing letters becomes history!