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Books About Letters / Collections Of Letters



Teacher Man

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I have to confess I got bogged down in the collected letters of both John Steinbeck and Jane Austen, and so decided that maybe reading other people's letters was not for me. I tried it again with the letters of Robert Louis Stevenson, but again gave up after a while.

 

Then, in 2015, two books got me into reading other people's mail:

The first os Letters of Note, compiled by Shaun Usher. It is an eclectic collection, and it frequently contains reproductions of the actual letters. Most of the letters are very interesting, many beautiful, but my absolute favourite is a standard form letter from a Bureau of Etiquette in China, AD 856. "I was ready to sink into the earth with shame." Indeed. Wonderfull stuff.

The second one is Simon Garfield's To the Letter, an ode to (or obituary for) the letter, which covers the history of the letter from ancient Greece to now, the history of the postal system, various famous letter writers, and some letters from Chris Barker and Bessie Moore, who wrote to each other while he was stationed in North Africa during WWII, fell in love, carried on their romance by mail, and finally got married. (Garfield has since edited a collection of their letters, My Dear Bessie.)

 

I heartily recommend both books, and I plan to give collected letters another go. Maybe Kurt Vonnegut or Mark Twain will be the thing. We'll see.

 

Whose letters do you read?

Okay, I used to have the Letter Writers Alliance and The Snail Mail Exchange in here. Somehow, my browsers settings and the forum's settings work together to prevent that from being the case at the moment. Whenever I try to update my signature, the whole process breakls down. So. Whatever.

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This is kind of interesting. It comes out quarterly. And readers can contribute as well. It is sponsored by the University of Nottingham.

 

http://www.theletterspage.ac.uk/letterspage/index.aspx

Brad

"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind" - Rudyard Kipling
"None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try." - Mark Twain

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I recommend 'For The Love Of Letters' by John O'Connell (as per my profile pic), I found it a pleasant read. Plenty of info on Amazon :) Not really a collection of letters as such though, so perhaps not what you're looking for.

Edited by Moominyak
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I like to read collections of letters, and strongly recommend those of E.B. White, who wrote for the New Yorker magazine for many years, and Sylvia Townsend Warner, an English writer. Witty, intelligent, and wise. The STW letters may no longer be in print, but I think libraries still carry them - and second hand versions are available on the usual bookish websites.

I re-read Virginia Woolf's letters regularly, but I admit that you have to be a fan of hers to really enjoy them!

"Life would split asunder without letters." Virginia Woolf

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asnailmailer

I am still plodding through To The Letter, 2 years after receiving it as a Christmas present. I got to the section titled "Why Jane Austen's Letters Are So Dull"....

!

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domnortheast

Hi Teacher Man,

I don't know whether there is an equivalent for die Deutsche Post, but the Royal Mail Postal Museum has some very interesting articles dealing with the history of the UK postal service and letters in general.

http://www.postalheritage.org.uk

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I like Steinbeck: A Life in Letters because it stands in for his autobiography, and then here and there I get an insight into his creative process. Rather than processed biography/autobiography, I'd rather have access to all the subject's uncensored correspondence and journal writings, just give to them to me, raw, and I'll make sense of it by myself. As to letters as letters, I have copies of all the ones I've written since 1990, by hand or Microsoft Word. When I want to read a terrific letter, I just read one of my own.

Edited by Bookman

I love the smell of fountain pen ink in the morning.

 

 

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  • 5 months later...

I like Steinbeck: A Life in Letters because it stands in for his autobiography, and then here and there I get an insight into his creative process. Rather than processed biography/autobiography, I'd rather have access to all the subject's uncensored correspondence and journal writings, just give to them to me, raw, and I'll make sense of it by myself. As to letters as letters, I have copies of all the ones I've written since 1990, by hand or Microsoft Word. When I want to read a terrific letter, I just read one of my own.

I've just stumbled onto this thread. That's just droll, Bookman.

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Keat's letters were an inspiration to me in my university days. I don't read many anymore, but I haven't read Bookman's.... ;)

 

But the mention of letters by Vonnegut has me curious....

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