letters of note

Back in February a letter popped through the postbox. Nothing unusual about that I hear you say, but this was a hand written envelope using handsome dark red ink that someone had taken the time to decorate. The postcard inside had been thoughtfully chosen and was from a friend chatting about a day we had spent together. It was such a lovely surprise, very touching and made me more than a little bit emotional that someone had taken the time to sit down and think about me and write a letter.

Handwritten letter

I corresponded with so many friends and family whilst away at univeristy and it was always a pleasure to receive a hand written letter in amongst the daily bills and bank statements. Receiving the surprise letter brought back so many memories, particularly of my Grandma who would write on a weekly basis in exactly the way she spoke. I have a letter tucked away from her written in her dialect which I will share with you all one day.

Letter Live

The surprise letter and exchange of correspondence which has followed, led to me attending Letters Live at the Southbank in April on World Book Night. This was the second such event inspired by To the Letter by Simon Garfield and Letters of Note by Shaun Usher. The evening consisted of various writers, actors and actresses, comedians and people of note reading letters from both books interspersed with music performed by the incredible James Rhodes. I’m late to the Letters of Note party which I heard about through Twitter quite some time ago, and following the Letters Live event I finally purchased the book.

Letters of Note spine

All of this is the long way round of telling you that this is my bedtime read for The Year in Books. I know Laura at Circle of Pine Trees read this as one of her April book and I’m sure there are a few more of you who have it on your list. It’s a wonderful book; there’s joy and laughter, tears and grief, reflections and pondering, love and hate, all aspects of the human condition are covered and explored and I thoroughly recommend it although it’s size makes it a little difficult for curling up in bed with!

Letter of Note || The Year in Books

I’ll never be a prolific letter writer but an occasional thoughtful note is such a joyous thing that I will make more time to sit down and write in ink, on paper and maybe decorate the odd envelope or two.

Thank you Sam from the bottom of my heart.


  1. says

    I have this book on my rather (too) long wish list…. I love writing letters, receiving letters and reading other people’s letter in book form like this, as well as novels based on correspondence, like ’84 Charing Cross Road’, ‘Dear Mr Bigelow’ etc.

    • Rachel says

      Oh, I love 84 Charing Cross Road, such a wonderful collection of correspondence in fact I might have to dig it out and read it again!

  2. says

    I would love to read “letters of note” but need to wait for the paperback edition. I have recently read “the Guernsey literary and potato peel pie society”, which was really a collection of letters and a very enjoyable, light read.

  3. says

    I agree, a handwritten note or letter is a wonderful thing to receive, someone has really breathed life into their words when they use pencil or pen and paper. I have just completed a calligraphy course which has made me think even more about letters, groups of letters, the power of letters etc, and our teacher has been urging us to write letters, address envelopes etc using our calligraphy skills (nb; my grasp of the skills has been tenuous; it’s harder than it looks!). I love the Letters of Note website too. Perhaps time for a revival of ‘real’ letters??

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