Cover image for To the letter : a celebration of the lost art of letter writing
To the letter : a celebration of the lost art of letter writing
Garfield, Simon, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York, New York : Gotham Books, [2014]

Physical Description:
464 pages : illustrations ; 21 cm
'To the Letter' tells the story of our remarkable journey through the mail. From Roman wood chips discovered near Hadrian's Wall to the wonders and terrors of email, Simon Garfield explores how we have written to each other over the centuries and what our letters reveal about our lives. Along the way he delves into the great correspondences of our time, from Cicero and Petrarch to Jane Austen and Ted Hughes, and traces the very particular advice offered by bestselling letter-writing manuals. He uncovers a host of engaging stories, including the tricky history of the opening greeting.
General Note:
Publisher varies.
1. The Magic of Letters -- In which we learn, in a roundabout way, how not to catch a bullet in your teeth, and ponder the value of letters in an age of email -- 2. From Vindolanda, Greetings -- In which inhabitants of a garrison town beneath Hadrian's Wall communicate with the present, and we find that even in ancient Rome it was important to plump up the cushions for visitors -- 3. The Consolations of Cicero, Seneca and Pliny the Younger -- In which we get a proper education -- Letters from Abroad -- 4. Love in Its Earliest Forms -- In which Marcus Aurelius falls for his teacher, twelfth-century lovers meet their comeuppance, and Petrarch complains about the crappy postal service -- How to Build a Pyramid -- 5. How to Write the Perfect Letter, Part 1 -- In which we learn to address a pope at the start of his popedom, and observe an English satirist roast a jilted lover -- Trying to Impress -- 6. Neither Snow nor Rain nor the Flatness of Norfolk.

Contents note continued: In which the Pastons welcome us into their delightful Norwich borders home, Henry VIII falls in love again, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet their fate -- Your New Lover -- 7. How to Write the Perfect Letter, Part 2 -- In which Madame de Sevigne and Lord Chesterfield become accidental heroes, and The Ladies Complete Letter-Writer tells us how to ask a friend for a summer in the country -- Entirely Gone -- 8. Letters for Sale -- In which letters become valuable slithers of history, Napoleon and Nelson do battle in the auction room, and a British soldier in India has a challenging time with the locals -- Let Us Mention Marriage -- 9. Why Jane Austen's Letters Are so Dull (and Other Postal Problems Solved) -- In which letters become fiction, and the universal penny post makes letter-writers of us all -- More Than Is Good for Me -- 10.A Letter Feels Like Immortality.

Contents note continued: In which a farmer picks up his mail if he can spare the time, Emily Dickinson starts a virtual book club, and we try not to get scammed. Also: Reginald Bray enters the fray -- All a Housewife Should Be -- 11. How to Write the Perfect Letter, Part 3 -- In which Lewis Carroll invents a vital addition to fruitful correspondence, the Chinese are taught to send fish in perfect English, and Edwardian stamp-tilters find new ways to say I will not marry you -- Photographs -- 12. More Letters for Sale -- In which we follow Virginia Woolf to the water's edge, discover why a letter-writer needs a broker in Manhattan, and read the mad and willing truth about Jack Kerouac -- Greece and London, Liberation and Capture -- 13. Love in Its Later Forms -- In which Charlie Brown fails to get a Valentine but Charles Schulz writes to his sweetheart, John Keats splutters his last to Fanny Brawne, and Henry Miller commits to Anais Nin -- Days Become Weeks -- 14. The Modern Master.

Contents note continued: In which we learn what we can from Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and contemplate the idea of the Collected Letters -- The Coming Home Question -- 15. Inbox -- In which & commat; transforms our lives for better and worse, we examine what will happen to our emails when we die, and curators at the world's leading universities dust down Salman Rushdie's Performa 5400 -- In the Flesh -- Epilogue: Dear Reader -- In which the author considers how one may keep history alive, and begins a pen-pal correspondence with an English professor in Connecticut.

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