For the Love of Letters

For the Love of Letters

The Joy of Slow Communication

  • customer reviews
Remember letters? They were good, weren’t they? The thrill of receiving that battered envelope, all the better for the wait . . . In this richly entertaining book, paper geek John O’Connell puts forward a passionate case for the value of letter-writing in a distracted, technology-obsessed world. Drawing on great examples from the past, he shows that the best letters have much to teach us – Samuel Richardson’s ‘familiar letters’; Wilfred Owen’s outpourings to his mother; the sly observational charms of Jane Austen. And in doing so he reminds us of the kind of letters we would all write if we had the time – the perfect thank-you letter, a truly empathetic condolence letter, and of course the heartfelt declaration of love. Was there a Golden Age of Letters? Why is handwriting so important? Can we ever regain the hallowed slowness of the pre-Twitter era? In answering these questions O’Connell shows how a proper letter is an object to be cherished, its crafting an act of exposure which gives shape and meaning to the chaos of life.

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‘The nib touches the paper. And instinctively I follow the old formula: address in top right-hand corner; date just beneath it on the left-hand side. My writing looks weird. I hand-write so infrequently these days that I’ve developed a graphic stammer - my brain’s way of registering its impatience and bemusement. What are you doing? Just send an email! I haven’t got all night . . .’
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  • Atria Books/Marble Arch Press | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476718804 | 
  • January 2013
List Price $20.00
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Read an Excerpt

I Hope You Are Well

It sounds random and crazed, this obsessing over a letter, this blithe buying of expensive paper from a shop it had never even occurred to me to visit before.

But there was a trigger.

The previous week I’d been clearing out my mother’s flat when I found a box file containing all my letters home from boarding school. I was nine and at prep school when I scratched out the first with my brand-new Osmiroid fountain pen, fourteen when I agonised over the last.

I was surprised my mother had kept the letters. She wasn’t generally sentimental about the past, even her... see more

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