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Letters

  • Letterwriting is the natural outlet of the "odds." The busy-bodies, the idle, the perverted, the cranks, the feel-it-my-duties ... Also the plain depraved. They all write letters. It's their safe outlet, you see. They can be as interfering, as long-winded, as obscene, as pompous, as one-idea'd, as they like on paper, and no one can kick them for it. So they write. My God, how they write!

  • There were people whose only interest in life was writing letters. To the newspapers, to authors, to strangers, to City Councils, to the police. It did not much matter to whom; the satisfaction of writing seemed to be all.

  • We always feel some difficulty in addressing those whom we are not in the habit of addressing frequently; we feel that the letter which is to make up for long silence, and epitomize the goings on of a good many months, ought to be three times as kind, satisfactory, and newsful as if two others had preceded it. And being at the same time quite sure that this very circumstance will tend to freeze the genial current of our thoughts, and that occurrences which might have had some savor in them, if told when fresh, are now grown vapid, we are apt to look on the matter as a sort of task, something we would wish to perform better than we have any chance of doing; and this feeling is the stronger the more we desire to stand well with the letter-expectant. Letters that come seldom can not do without preambles; which are always stupid things, but sometimes seem necessary to prevent the appearance of abruptness.

  • No literary form is more revealing, more spontaneous or more individual than a letter.

    • P.D. James,
    • in Olga Kenyon, 800 Years of Women's Letters ()
  • The purpose of a business letter is to inspire action, either at once or at some future date.

  • The letter you write is your personal representative. It takes your place when circumstances make it impossible for you to be there in person.

  • How eagerly in all times and all places, have people waited for mail from home! How wistfully have they repeated, over and over again, that old familiar question: 'Any mail for me?'

  • Life would split asunder without them.

  • The best letters of our time are precisely those that can never be published.

  • ... the humane art which owes its origin to the love of friend.

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • "The Humane Art," in Leonard Woolf, ed., Collected Essays ()
  • You have a touch in letter writing that is beyond me. Something unexpected, like coming round a corner in a rose garden and finding it still daylight.

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • 1908, in Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, eds., The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume I: 1888-1912 ()
  • It was very nice of you to write to me. I love getting letters, but I hate answering them, at least when I've let them, as generally happens, lie about and become mouldy and reproachful.

    • Virginia Woolf,
    • 1934, in Nigel Nicolson and Joanne Trautmann, eds., The Letters of Virginia Woolf: Volume V: 1932-1935 ()
  • The longer one doesn't write, the more difficult it is to communicate.

    • Indira Gandhi,
    • in Dorothy Norman, ed., Indira Gandhi: Letters to An American Friend 1950-1984 ()
  • Your letter carries with it not only the message you want it to convey, but another very definite message about yourself.

  • I have no courage to write much unless I am written to. I soon begin to think that there are plenty of other correspondents more interesting — so if you all want to hear from me you know the conditions.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1851, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 1 ()
  • It is pleasant to have a kind word now and then when one is not near enough to have a kind glance or a hearty shake by the hand.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1857, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 2 ()
  • I don't mind how many letters I receive from one who interests me as much as you do. The receptive part of correspondence I can carry on with much alacrity. It is writing answers that I groan over.

    • George Eliot,
    • 1875, in Gordon S. Haight, ed., The George Eliot Letters, vol. 6 ()
  • Why is it that you can sometimes feel the reality of people more keenly through a letter than face to face?

  • A letter is a risky thing; the writer gambles on the reader's frame of mind.

  • When it comes to bombshells, there are few that can be more effective than that small, flat, frail thing, a letter.

  • My heart has written you several epistles in reply, but the hand could not be spared. Oh for some spiritual daguerreotype, by which thoughts might spontaneously write themselves!

  • A letter is a barrier, a reprieve, a charm against the world, an almost infallible method of acting at a distance.

  • A letter is never ill-timed; it never interrupts. Instead it waits for us to find the opportune minute, the quiet moment to savor the message. There is an element of timelessness about letter writing ...

  • Letters remind us that when we write we can bring back the best of times, even make time stand still, if only for a few minutes.

  • ... there are lots of ways of answering a letter — and writing doesn't happen to be mine.

  • ... I think one of the dullest things in the world is a letter filled with apologies for not writing sooner.

  • ... nothing is more vulgar than a careful avoidance of beginning a letter with the first person singular ...

  • ... letters are so much easier than living. One can give one's best.

    • May Sarton,
    • 1948, in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Among the Usual Days ()
  • And I refuse to feel guilty about not letter-writing either. There are times when one can, times when one can't. In the times when an enormous amount of living is going on, one can't.

    • May Sarton,
    • 1942, in Susan Sherman, ed., May Sarton: Selected Letters 1916-1954 ()
  • ... I can think of few things more disastrous than starting a new correspondence with any one. Letters are a burden indeed ... they seem often the last straw that breaks the back ... you should see the piles of those that I must answer that litter and weight my writing table.

    • Rose Macaulay,
    • 1953, in Constance Babington-Smith, ed., Last Letters to a Friend ()
  • The letter of application ... should be a masterpiece of fiction, papering over all the cracks. Get it properly typed on decent writing paper. Never let it run over the page, people get bored with reading.

  • The memo's chief function ... is as a track-coverer, so that you can turn on someone six months later and snarl: 'Well, you should have known about it, I sent you a memo.'

  • ... I was sorting through my mother's things. All the letters from friends had to go. I don't know why she kept them, and now they meant nothing to anybody alive. Each generation flushes the toilet for the last.

    • Lucy Ellman,
    • "Pass the Parcel," in Kate Saunders, ed., Revenge ()
  • A good letter-writer possesses the temperament that makes and holds friends. He is usually an impressionable, lively, sensitive individual with humane impulses and sympathetic thoughts. He is able to describe the commonplace details of the routine of life in such a way as to strike a responsive chord in the reader. Is he not like that rare individual who is more interesting after a two-mile jaunt than other people after a tour around the world? The best letter-writers make the reader feel an increasing tenderness for them.

  • An inspired letter can be as riveting as a stare. It can move us to tears, spur us to action, provoke us, uplift us, touch us. Transform us. When written from the heart, letters are dreams on paper, wishes fulfilled, desires satisfied. Letters can be powerful.

  • Unlike the phone, a letter is never an interruption. A letter doesn't require immediate attention; it can be saved for the appropriate time and place and savored.

  • What a treat to receive a letter from a friend! Eighteenth century revived! When I do find one, I hold my treasure lightly and wait until I have a quiet moment alone before I open it. I hate to dilute the anticipation and appreciation of someone's thoughts and feelings by facing them when I'm distracted. Someone has taken time to focus on me, even if only for a moment. I feel touched and want to savor the all-too-rare experience.

  • Letter writing allows us to be alone yet connected.

  • Letters tell you what the writer thinks of the recipient; journals tell you who the writer is.

  • Letters are a cross between saying what you can't keep quiet about and what you think the recipient would like to hear.

  • Letters strike me as an attempt to tell others how you are. Journals are an attempt to discover who you are.

  • She is probably by this time as tired of me, as I am of her; but as she is too polite and I am too civil to say so, our letters are still as frequent and affectionate as ever ...

  • What strange creatures brothers are! You would not write to each other but upon the most urgent necessity in the world; and when obliged to take up the pen to say that such a horse is ill, or such a relation dead, it is done in the fewest possible words. You have but one style among you. ... 'Dear Mary, I am just arrived. Bath seems full, and every thing as usual. Yours sincerely.' That is the true manly style; that is a complete brother's letter.

  • The post-office is a wonderful establishment! The regularity and dispatch of it! If one thinks of all that it has to do, and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing!

  • Everyone allows that the talent of writing agreeable letters is peculiarly female.

  • ... real letter-writing ... is founded on a need as old and as young as humanity itself, the need that one human being has of another.

  • Letters form a by-path of literature, a charming, but occasional, retreat for people of cultivated leisure.

  • There was no escape from the letter-writer who, a hundred or a hundred and twenty-five years ago, captured a coveted correspondent. It would have been as easy to shake off an octopus or a boa-constrictor.

  • [Mary Wortley Montagu] wrote more letters, with fewer punctuation marks, than any Englishwoman of her day; and her nephew, the fourth Baron Rokeby, nearly blinded himself in deciphering the two volumes of undated correspondence which were printed in 1810. Two more followed in 1813, after which the gallant Baron either died at his post or was smitten with despair; for sixty-eight cases of letters lay undisturbed ... 'Les morts n'écrivent point,' said Madame de Maintenon hopefully; but of what benefit is this inactivity, when we still continue to receive their letters?

  • Why do so many ingenious theorists give fresh reasons every year for the decline of letter writing, and why do they assume, in derision of suffering humanity, that it has declined? They lament the lack of leisure, the lack of sentiment ... They talk of telegrams, and telephones, and postal cards, as if any discovery of science, any device of civilization, could eradicate from the human heart that passion for self-expression which is the impelling force of letters.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "The Customary Correspondent," Americans and Others ()
  • Letter-writing on the part of a busy man or woman is the quintessence of generosity.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • in Grace Guiney, ed., Letters of Louise Imogen Guiney. vol. 1 ()
  • ... if I believed that the choice lay between a sacrifice of the completest order of biography and that of the inviolability of private epistolary correspondence, I could not hesitate for a moment. I would keep the old and precious privacy,--the inestimable right of every one who has a friend and can write to him, — I would keep our written confidence from being made biographical material, as anxiously as I would keep our spoken conversation from being noted down for the good of society.

  • Our first love-letter ... There is so much to be said, and which no words seems exactly to say — the dread of saying too much is so nicely balanced by the fear of saying too little. Hope borders on presumption, and fear on reproach.

  • Francesca's was a grievance of which most of her sex have to complain; a man's letter is always the most unsatisfactory thing in the world. There are none of those minute details which are such a solace to feminine anxiety; the mere fact of writing, always seems sufficient to content a masculine conscience.

  • I do not think that life has a suspense more sickening than that of expecting a letter which does not come.

  • Decline of the letter, the rise of the notebook! One doesn't write to others any more; one writes to oneself.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1980, in David Rieff, ed., As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh ()
  • I suppose animals kept in cages, and so scantily fed as to be always upon the verge of famine, await their food as I awaited a letter ... The letter — the well-beloved letter — would not come; and it was all of sweetness in life I had to look for.

  • Write to me, dear, whenever you can. You do a good deed when you send me a letter, for you comfort a very desolate heart.

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • 1843, in Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, vol. 1 ()
  • I shall be glad to hear from you whenever you have time to write to me, but you are never, on any account, to do this except when inclination prompts and leisure permits. I should never thank you for a letter which you had felt it a task to write.

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • 1850, in Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, vol. 2 ()
  • Thank you for your letter; it was as pleasant as a quiet chat, as welcome as spring showers, as reviving as a friend's visit; in short, it was very like a page of 'Cranford.'

    • Charlotte Brontë,
    • 1853, in Elizabeth Gaskell, The Life of Charlotte Brontë, vol. 2 ()
  • There is something intrinsically wrong about letters. For one thing they are not instantaneous. ... Nor is this the only trouble about letters. They do not arrive often enough. A letter which has been passionately awaited should be immediately supplemented by another one, to counteract the feeling of flatness that comes upon us when the agonizing delights of anticipation have been replaced by the colder flood of fulfilment.

  • ... a letter, by its arrival, defrauds us of a whole secret region of our existence, the only region indeed in which the true pleasure of life may be tasted, the region of imagination, creative and protean, the clouds and beautiful shapes of whose heaven are destroyed by the wind of reality.

  • I have walked on air all day since getting your letter.

    • Vita Sackville-West,
    • letter to Virginia Woolf (1924), in Louise DeSalvo and Mitchell A. Leaska, eds., The Letters of Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf ()
  • Why bring children into a world where no one writes letters?

  • Meanwhile, the empty forms of social behavior survive inappropriately in business situations. We all know that when a business sends its customers 'friendly reminders,' it really means business.

  • Letters are the real curse of my existence. I hate to write them: I have to. If I don't, there they are — the great guilty gates barring my way.

  • Why it should be such an effort to write to the people one loves I can't imagine. It's none at all to write to those who don't really count.

  • ... he who gives quickly gives twice / in nothing so much as in a letter.

  • I must entreat you to remember me often. I never think your letters half long enough.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • (1777), in Charles Francis Adams, Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams ()
  • When ever I receive a Letter from you it seems to give new Springs to my nerves, and a brisker circulation to my Blood.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to Mary Cranch (1776), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book ()
  • Let me entreat you to write me more letters ... They are my food by day and my rest by night.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to her husband (1779), in William O. Foss, ed., First Ladies Quotations Book ()
  • Let me hear from you by every opportunity, as the correspondence of my Friends is the only compensation I can receive for the loss of their Society.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1784), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Letters from my Friends are a cordial to my Soul.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1785), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • It is a strange thing to read a letter after the writer is dead — a bitter-sweet thing, in which pain and comfort are strangely mingled.

  • Letters are false really — they are expressions of the way you wish you were instead of the way you are ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • (1961), in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • In a letter (no matter how quickly it is written or honestly or freely or lovingly) it is more possible to be loving and lovable, more possible to reach out and to take in ... I feel I have somehow deceived you into thinking this is really a human relationship. It is a letter relationship between humans ...

    • Anne Sexton,
    • 1963, in Linda Gray Sexton and Lois Ames, eds., Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters ()
  • A letter always feels to me like Immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • 1882, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • ... it is cold tonight, but the thought of you so warm, that I sit by it as a fireside, and am never cold any more. I love to write to you — it gives my heart a holiday and sets the bells to ringing.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson 1845-1886 ()
  • A Letter is a joy of Earth — / It is denied the Gods — .

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1865, in Thomas H. Johnson, ed., The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson ()
  • ... his letters ... have been like fine cold water when you are terribly thirsty ...

    • Georgia O'Keeffe,
    • letter to Anita Pollitzer (1916), in Clive Giboire, ed., Lovingly, Georgia ()
  • To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.

  • E-mails are letters, after all, more lasting than phone calls, even if many of them r 2 cursory 4 u.

  • Letters are the stories of our souls.

  • Always serve letters with a cup of tea and a footstool. Celebrate 'the reading' slowly. It is irreverent to read a letter fast.

  • A letter bears its own copyright. Standing before my mailbox holding an original very limited edition in my hands is like standing before a feast.

  • I once read a survey that said the moment in the daily routine that people look forward to most is opening the mail.

    • Nancy Berliner,
    • "A Brief and True Relation of the Chinese Postal Service," in Bostonia ()
  • ... the thrill of receiving a letter must partially stem from the letter being physical evidence of the fact that even when we are not in the presence of a friend, we still exist in their minds.

    • Nancy Berliner,
    • "A Brief and True Relation of the Chinese Postal Service," in Bostonia ()
  • ... must get this in an envelope before my husband comes home. He'll want to know who I am writing to, then he'll insist on reading it, and then he will laugh at my spelling. Why are non-spellers always married to spellers who laugh?

  • [The way she ended most of her letters:] Most heartily yours for woman suffrage and all other reforms.

    • Louisa May Alcott,
    • in Eve LaPlante, Marmee and Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother ()
  • There is nothing sadder than the cheerful letters of the dead, expressing hopes that were never fulfilled, ambitions that were never achieved, dreams cut off before they could come to fruition.

  • ... I know of no sorrow greater than that occasioned by a delay of the post.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1675, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 3 ()
  • You don't know a woman until you have had a letter from her.

  • Letter-writing, like so many time-honored institutions, is becoming a lost art: it seems to have fallen into disuse with the quill-pen. Formerly, for those who were separated by distance, the voluminous letter was the most usual means of interchanging family news, thoughts, and ideas. But nowadays, with the ever-increasing facilities for quick travelling, the necessity has passed for the old-fashioned letter, so often a faithful record of daily life and opinions, and time can no longer be spared for the art of correspondence. It seems unlikely, therefore, that the present age will produce many such letters as were written in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

  • The one good thing about not seeing you is that I can write you letters.

  • There is a side of friendship that develops better and stronger by correspondence than contact ... The absence of the flesh in writing perhaps brings souls nearer.

  • E-mail is popcorn correspondence - light, quick, fun, sometimes a little salty. Press the delete key, and the words vanish as if they had never been.

  • It is well enough when one is talking to a friend to hedge in an odd word by way of counsel now and then, but there is something mighty irksome, in its staring upon one in a letter where one ought only to see kind words and friendly remembrances ...

    • Mary Ann Lamb,
    • 1806, in The Letters of Charles and Mary Ann Lamb, vol. 2 ()
  • ... I am much fonder of receiving letters, than writing them: but I believe this is no very uncommon case.

    • Mary Ann Lamb,
    • 1802, in The Letters of Charles and Mary Ann Lamb, vol. 2 ()
  • Like many other women who claim to live in retirement, Leonilla Leopolska was in active correspondence with all the habitable earth.

  • I am sorry for people who can't write letters. But I suspect also that you and I ... love to write them because it's kind of like working without really doing it.

  • The letters of famous people can be placed into two categories: there is the type of letter which becomes itself a valuable contribution to literature through its wit, style or wisdom; another kind is that whose main importance lies in the provision of a background to their author's life. Especially in the correspondence of great writers and poets, these two factors are very often combined ...

    • Muriel Spark,
    • in Muriel Spark, ed., The Letters of The Brontës: A Selection ()
  • You love writing; I hate it; and if I had a lover who expected a note from me every morning, I should certainly break with him. Let me beg you then not to measure my friendship by my writing ...

  • My pen is always freer than my tongue. I have written many things to you that I suppose I never could have talked.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • 1775, in Frank Shuffelton, ed., The Letters of John and Abigail Adams ()
  • Is there anything in the world more suggestive of interesting possibilities than a mail box? Whether it be the iron box beside the door knob, the gilded drawer at the post office, the open row of boxes behind a hotel counter, or just the Valentine box on the teacher's desk, it suggests the exciting possibility of a new friend, an important message, or even, perhaps, the promise of a new experience. ... The romance of the mail box is an old romance.

  • Sometimes I can scarcely understand how I can postpone the writing of certain letters. Strangely enough they are always the letters I want most to write, and herein lies the little seed of my big sin! It is because I am not willing to write a routine letter to certain persons whom I love and esteem, that I fail to write any at all. I keep believing there will come a quiet day ... when I can quietly say what is in my heart: important things to me simply because I believe them or am troubled by them or want to tell some one who will understand what I am saying. Well, the quiet days are stuff of which only dreams are made.

    • Lillian Smith,
    • 1948, in Margaret Rose Gladney, ed., How Am I to Be Heard? Letters of Lillian Smith ()
  • Yes, letter writing is antiquated — though there remain a few renegades who still so treasure the luxury of contemplating their lives in letters that they would rather write than call.

    • Joan Frank,
    • "What Comes Around," in Utne Reader ()
  • A letter has distinct advantages. You can say all you want to say before the other person has a chance to put in a word.

  • ... the whole secret of the art of letter writing lies in writing not what one wishes to chronicle, but what the recipient can find delight in reading.

  • You ask what kind of letters I like. What can I say but one thing? Of course what I really like is flattery and affection ...

    • Vanessa Bell,
    • to her sister Virginia Stephen (1908), in Regina Marler, ed., Selected Letters of Vanessa Bell ()
  • ... I find that in letters you can make things whatever you wish them to be.

    • Sandra Scofield,
    • "Writing From Love and Grief and Fear," in Neil Baldwin and Diane Osen, eds., The Writing Life ()
  • It is well to remember that motion pictures do not accompany letters and hence to take for granted that if a way exists for getting what you mean wrong that way will be found. It is unfortunately safe to take for granted that a personal business letter is going to be read by a moron.

  • Do not use two one-cent stamps in place of a two-cent stamp. Somehow one-cent stamps are not dignified.

  • The letter is a substitute for a spoken conversation. It is spontaneous, private, and personal. It is non-literary and is not written for the eyes of the general public.

  • It is a rare writer who can say all that need be said in one line and not seem rude. But it can be done.

  • There are only two tests for telling whether a letter is too long. One is whether it says more than need be said. The other is whether it takes too many words to say it.

  • Your personal stake in letters may be greater than you think. For in the business world, the ability to express ideas clearly and convincingly shows up in letters more than in any other form of written communication.

  • If H.S.O. does not write we will kill him — the heartless wretch!

  • It takes two to write a letter as much as it takes two to make a quarrel.

  • A letter is not a dialogue or even an omniscient exposition. It is a fabric of surfaces, a mask, a form as well suited to affectations as to the affections. The letter is, by its natural shape, self-justifying; it is one's own evidence, deposition, a self-serving testimony. In a letter the writer holds all the cards, controls everything about himself and about those assertions he wishes to make concerning events or the worth of others. For completely self-centered characters, the letter form is a complex and rewarding activity.

  • In letters we can reform without practice, beg without humiliation, snip and shape embarrassing experiences to the measure of our own desires ...

    • Elizabeth Hardwick,
    • "Anderson, Millay and Crane in Their Letters" (1953), A View of My Own, ()
  • Letters were first invented for consoling such solitary wretches as myself. Having lost the substantial pleasures of seeing and possessing you, I shall in some measure compensate this loss by the satisfaction I shall find in your writing.

    • Héloïse,
    • letter to Peter Abelard (12th cent.), in M. Lincoln Schuster, The World's Great Letters ()
  • If a picture, which is but a mute representation of an object, can give such pleasure, what cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions, they can raise them as much as if the persons themselves were present; they have all the tenderness and the delicacy of speech, and sometimes a boldness of expression even beyond it.

    • Héloïse,
    • letter to Peter Abelard (12th cent.), in M. Lincoln Schuster, The World's Great Letters ()
  • A query letter is like a fishing expedition; don't put too much bait on your hook or you'll lose your quarry. Be brief and be tantalizing!

  • I wish there were some photographic process by which one's mind could be struck off and transferred to that of the friend we wish to know it, without the medium of this confounded letter-writing!

    • Geraldine Jewsbury,
    • 1841, in Mrs. Alexander Ireland, ed., Selections From the Letters of Geraldine Endsor Jewsbury to Jane Welsh Carlyle ()
  • Although an impressive amount of business and social interaction takes place over the telephone and fax, by e-mail, or in person today, the well-written letter remains a staple of business success and one of the strongest connecting links between human beings.

  • ... a telephone call can't replace the singular pleasure of a letter. It can't conjure images, or be tucked into a pocket to be reread later and savored again. No matter how high the technology, a phone can't carry the voice of the caller as distinctly as does a letter, which depends, for transmission, on something far more advanced than any wire or chip. A letter relies on imagination. That of the receiver as well as of the sender.

  • Will the kindness of this letter excuse the shortness of it?

    • Dorothy Osborne,
    • 1653, in G.C. Moore Smith, Letters of Dorothy Osborne to William Temple ()
  • ... writers don't like to write letters. Too much like work.

    • Mari Sandoz,
    • 1938, in Helen Winter Stauffer, ed., Letters of Mari Sandoz ()
  • A letter is the most imperishable thing on earth.

  • I want to know a Thousand litle Perticulars about your self yr Husband & the children such as your mother used to write me. ... it would be Next to Seeing the little things to hear some of there Prattle (Speaches If you Please) & have you Describe there persons & actions tell me who they Look like &c.

    • Jane Franklin,
    • 1780, in Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin ()
  • I have indevered to make as good a letter as I cold, donte let aney bodey see my letter as I write so bad.

    • Jane Franklin,
    • c. 1772, in Jill Lepore, Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin ()
  • Paper is patient and sits and waits for you to pour your heart out. I think letterwriting is a lost art, but I enjoy it because it keeps us connected ...

    • Brenda Manz,
    • in Kathy Haight, "Sealing a Friendship," The Charlotte Observer ()
  • E-mail is a modern Penny Post: the world is a single city with a single postal rate.

    • Anne Fadiman,
    • "Mail," in Kathleen Norris, ed., The Best American Essays ()
  • It is a truism of epistolary psychology that, for example, a Christmas thank-you note written on December 26 can say any old thing, but if you wait until February, you are convinced that nothing less than Middlemarch will do.

    • Anne Fadiman,
    • "Mail," in Kathleen Norris, ed., The Best American Essays ()
  • The single drawback to being a good correspondent is that when finally you see the person to whom you've written for quite some time, he may find you rather less enchanting in person than you seemed on the printed page.

  • I am strangely addicted to the writing of long letters, which, I am afraid, tire you; and for the future, I believe, I must be less communicative, in order to be less troublesome.

  • Your letters are always to me fresher than flowers, without their fading so soon.

  • The beauty of the letter is that it can be read and re-read. It's a very personal communication. People seem to have more freedom expressing themselves in a letter. Also, they are improving their writing ability and creating a lasting record. Our history has been brilliantly illuminated by letters.

  • Letters show the direction of a person's life. They capture, in an informal, but immediate way .... sometimes in a way that is embarrassing to the letter writer .... his character, his relationships with others, his hopes and disappointments.

  • I listen and my hand thy letter presses; / I, time-worn woman, touch it with caresses, / I kiss the faded ink of its addresses.

    • Susan L. Emory,
    • "An Old Woman's Answer to a Letter From Her Girlhood," The Catholic Anthology ()
  • He did not find it easy to write to Prudence. To begin with, he had never been much of a letter-writer, and then her letters were of such a high literary standard, so much embellished with suitable quotations that he found it quite impossible to equal them.

  • That letter of hers came upon me like a kiss, so short, so sudden, and so affectionate ...

    • Mary Russell Mitford,
    • 1819, in Henry Chorley, ed., Letters of Mary Russell Mitford, 2nd series, vol. 1 ()
  • I for one appreciate a good form letter, having worked on Capitol Hill and learned several dozen cordial ways to say nothing.

    • Carrie Johnson,
    • "Judging American Business By Its Writing Habits," in The New York Times ()
  • It has been said of his postcards that they made the Lord's Prayer on the head of a pin look like skywriting.

  • ... a letter ... changes utterly the moment it slips inside an envelope. It stops being mine. It becomes yours. What I mean is gone. What you understand is all that remains.

  • Whenever possible, respond to a letter immediately. The longer you postpone answering, the more lengthy the response needs to be.

  • Some persons' letters seem almost framed to afford a series of alibis for their personality ...

    • Vernon Lee,
    • "Receiving Letters," Hortus Vitae ()
  • Sometimes I think letter-writing might be an expression of that universal childhood desire to be invisible: to meet people without having to deal with the physicality of it all, suspending space and time, to a degree, in our relationships with others.

  • A handwritten, personal letter has become a genuine modern-day luxury, like a child's pony ride.

  • Letters are expectation packed in an envelope.

  • Sometimes I think it is ... frustration with life as it is lived day to day that compels me to write such long letters to people who seldom reply in kind, if indeed they reply at all. Somehow by compressing and editing the events of my life, I infuse them with a dramatic intensity totally lacking at the time, but oddly enough I find that years later what I remember is not the event as I lived it but as I described it in a letter.

  • But a piece of paper can be a powerful presence. I have always had enormous respect for the written word and invariably find a letter more revealing than a face-to-face conversation. In a strange way I suspect I will get to know you better at a distance than I would if you had stayed at home ...

  • Though my own life is filled with activity, letters encourage momentary escape into other lives, and I come back to my own with greater contentment.

  • Christmas cards ... are technically only junk mail from people you know.

  • Letter-writing transcends verbal communication. People yearn for that human touch in this mass-media world.

    • Fran Mathay,
    • in Kathy Haight, "Sealing a Friendship," The Charlotte Observer ()
  • The telephone conversation is, by its very nature, reactive, not reflective. Immediacy is its prime virtue. ... The letter, written in absorbed solitude, is an act of faith: it assumes the presence of humanity: world and self are generated from within: loneliness is courted, not feared. To write a letter is to be alone with my thoughts in the conjured presence of another person. I keep myself imaginative company. I occupy the empty room.

    • Vivian Gornick,
    • "Letters Are Acts of Faith," in The New York Times Book Review ()
  • If letters did not exist, what dark depressions would come over one! When one has been worrying about something and wants to tell a certain person about it, what a relief it is to put it all down in a letter! Still greater is one's joy when a reply arrives. At that moment a letter really seems like an elixir of life.

  • Privacy means more to us than ever, now that almost anyone with a modicum of computer savvy can access our most personal files. In the cool, public world of electronic media, a lettter still exudes the warm scent of unassailable privacy.

  • Our correspondences have wings — paper birds that fly from my house to yours — flocks of ideas crisscrossing the country. Once opened, a connection is made. We are not alone in the world.

  • There is something very sensual about a letter. The physical contact of pen to paper, the time set aside to focus thoughts, the folding of the paper into the envelope, licking it closed, addressing it, a chosen stamp, and then the release of the letter to the mailbox — are all acts of tenderness.

  • I am writing you because I have nothing to do; and I'm quitting here because I have nothing to tell you.

    • Anonymous,
    • 1789, in W.S. Lewis, ed., Horace Walpole's Correspondance, vol. 11 ()
  • Buddy enjoyed writing letters. A letter was different from a conversation. In a face-to-face encounter you couldn't ever be in total control of the situation, but in a letter you could get down on paper exactly what you wanted to say in the best possible language, and leave out whatever didn't fit in. It was like addressing a jury without the presence of opposing counsel, in some courtroom where you had a free hand with the judge.

  • A letter makes ordinary things seem important.