The Art of Letter Writing

The Art of Letter Writing

While in the summertime it seems easy to explore a multitude of activities, the wintertime provides the space for quieter activities, new hobbies, or creative outlets that encourage reflection. The intense winter storms and their impact on travel keep us inside to discover new activities or pastimes. Winter days feel quiet and reflective as our time indoors beckons us to think more about how to spend our time intentionally.

When was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter to someone? In the age of quick text messaging, instant emails and continuous communication, letter writing is beginning to feel like a lost art.  Take paper (maybe made locally by Crane & Co.) and pen, and set time aside to write a letter to a friend, family member, or neighbor.  Particularly when the weather is ferocious outside and a Nor’easter is upon us, seize the opportunity to sit down with pen, paper, and the backdrop of falling snow to compose a multi-page letter.  Unlike computer keyboards, there is no backspace key or delete function.  It’s the chance to move slowly, choosing words carefully and with care; to meditate on what you want to want to communicate.  Letter writing connects people and lets the recipient hold onto the letter as a keepsake. The art of letter writing can preserve a fond memory or anecdote. It can be  a record of friendship. 

Take your interest in letter writing and explore Epistolary Novels, a genre of literature focused on letter writing.  These books or novels tell their stories through letters the characters write to each other or sometimes even through diary entries. Some well-known epistolary novels to check out at your local Western MA library include:

  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  • Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos
  • Lady Susan by Jane Austen
  • Letters of Two Brides by Honore de Balzac
  • Poor Folk by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

[Photo credit: (cc) Ryan Blanding]

Download our Jan/Feb edition of Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts for embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.


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