Last night I saw Letters Live. For the uninitiated, it’s a much loved letter reading event, which attracts all sorts of A-listers. The letters were by turns moving, poignant, laugh-out-loud funny and gloriously sweary. And best of all Benedict Cumberbatch was among the readers.
The rituals of letter writing
Letters have an enduring charm that email simply cannot match. I think it’s because sending letters contains an element of ritual. First of all assembling the tools, quality paper, envelopes, a fountain pen. The rules of composition, which salutation matches which valediction, dates and left indented addresses. And then there’s going to the post office for a stamp. I used to love the taste of the glue on the back. Yes, yes, I know you’re supposed to use the little sponge things now. But licking stamps remains one of my guilty pleasures- germs schmerms!
Letter love is common among stationery addicts of course. So, inspired by Letters Live I wanted this post to celebrate letters in all their diverse forms and usages. There’s so many ways to keep letters in our lives. Here are a few of my favourites…
Pen pal clubs
Recently, there’s been quite a few pen pal clubs set up. Quill London has a paid option complete with quarterly socials and Proper Post has a matching service that I’ve been meaning to join for the longest time. It’s called Paper Planes.
Letter writing is often referred to as an art. But nowadays addressing the envelope is, too. It’s the perfect opportunity to get out the quill and ink, but brush pens work too.
There are some beautiful examples on Instagram. And Quill sell envelope guides and things. But there’s nothing to stop you just grabbing some Basildon Bond and giving it a go.
And it’s not just the direction that gives you a chance to express yourself. Sealing wax is a simple but effective way to add a touch of charm. I feel like I’m channelling Tudor insurgents when I use mine. Surely every costume drama ever has a scene where an important document is given an official seal in this way. It also ups the sense of anticipation for the recipient.
Stamps, too, offer a world of potential. Present and Correct have some beautiful ones. And those of you who’ve placed an order with The Stationer may well have received them.
Letters to self
Writing letters to others is all well and good, but what about letters to your future self. A while back I got a gorgeous box of prompts from Kikki K. It’s the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Slightly left-field, but one of the most enjoyable ways to consume letters on a page. My favourites are The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
If you’re a fan of epistolary novels, too, you might enjoy this post I wrote to celebrate Write a Letter Day as part of National Stationery Week 2017.
Something letter-related that I’ve missed? Do let me know in the comments.