The lost art of letter writing

Letters to my father - now part of family history

Letters to my father, forming part of family history

I was reading an article entitled ‘Paean to the Pen’ by Lindsay Wright in the April edition of  North & South magazine. It talks of the diminishing art of letter writing.

How long ago is it since you’ve received a handwritten letter? A beautifully crafted note in pen and ink on elegant note paper. I have a friend from England who writes to me in this way several times a year – but excepting those letters and the odd Christmas, birthday card or invitation, all else that arrives in the letterbox (not the virtual one) is computer-generated.

Lindsay says:

“There’s no power button to push on a pen. The power comes from within. The gentle flow of ballpoint on paper happens at a pace which matches the stream (or trickle) of thought between brain and fingers; a natural progression of ideas being transformed into words and communication.

“Handwriting is individual…”

She is so right. Nothing can replace the human touch of pen on paper – no matter how artistic or well-designed the digital font is.

I do concede that the immediacy of emails and texts has a huge attraction. No longer do we have to factor in a minimum of five days for our letters to reach the UK when we can engage in real-time online conversations with our friends.

But handwritten letters are undoubtedly the most special of communications. Do we ever tie emails up with ribbon in a bundle to store away as keepsakes?

Some years ago, I travelled to Poland to try and trace my father’s home – a home taken and then occupied by the Germans during World War II. His collection of letters helped me put together pieces of the puzzle. Although I can’t read Polish, I was able to discern names of the correspondents and I took some letters with me in the hope that someone would be able to translate them and give me an understanding of what the letters were about.

I was successful in that regard and was so thankful that these precious letters had been kept.

My father had a beautiful hand (as do most european-educated people) who took great pride in everything he did – from the way he dressed to the way he wrote.

I thank North & South for reminding me about the simple treasures I have.

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