05 January, 2013

Favourite Sites: Letters of Note

You probably have to be of a certain age to even know what letter writing is all about. I'm in my mid-fifties and belong to one of the last generations of letter writers. We wrote party invitations, Valentine letters, thank you notes, pen pal letters, letters of complaint, letters of introduction, love letters, long epistles to dear friends living far away, and letters to family reminiscing good times long gone. Some of my closest relationships were formed and sustained almost solely through letter writing. It is/was considered an art form.

The website, Letter of Note, succeeds wonderfully in showing how delightful letter reading can be. Each letter opens a window of insight into the person's life, opinions, or history.

On the site's archive it is possible to browse through letters according to dates, categories, or author. If you prefer serendipity, there is a "random letter" generator on the right-hand sidebar.

I have subscribed to the blog for a few years now, so I've enjoyed whatever is published new. But, there are over 900 letters in the archive, so occasionally, I consciously seek out letter from some of my favourite persons. Here is a sample list:
  • Harper Lee describing touchingly how reading books was the only means she and other local children had during the Depression to discover worlds outside of their homes or village.   
  • David Bowie responding to his first fan mail from America
  • E.B. White patiently explaining the burden of having to answer fan mail
  • Frank Zappa appealing to his fans to rise up to action
  • Harold Pinter rendering whiplash upon someone of Little Brain
  • Spike Milligan doing the same...
Letters of Note also points you in the direction of other collections of letters. These two letters of Kurt Vonnegut inspired me to order his extraordinary collection. This letter written in 1824 by  Charles Lamb surprisingly illustrates how Man Colds have existed for centuries. The letter also made me remember the part Charles Lamb letters played in the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Delightfully, his letters are available for free at Google Play.

If you are a teacher, parent, grandparent, or just avid reader there is much wealth of knowledge to be discovered here.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, Letters of Note is an amazing site, which I discoveed only about a year ago and haven't read everything yet. I remember all the letter writing I used to do. Now I do it so rarely that become appalled how my handwriting has deteriorated.

    Best wishes for good health and creativity in this New Year. I do keep reading your blog though I don't often comment.