Books About Letters

Letter writing and books seem to go hand in hand. Generally, people who write are readers. And people who love to read often aspire to be writers. Because letter writing is one of the most fundamental ways of writing, there are many genres of books about letters and letter writing. The epistolary novel, a story that unfolds through a series of letters, is not an uncommon device, and dates back to the late 15th century. From Bram Stoker’s classic gothic horror novel, Dracula, first published in 1897, to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,…

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Letters from France: Deployment

Joseph Bosque, a Sergeant in the U.S. Army during World War I, was deployed on May 20, 1918 from Camp Merritt, New Jersey to Marseilles, France. Although he was not permitted at the time to reveal his destination, he left prearranged clues in his letters to his sweetheart back home in San Francisco, Annie Corbett. On May 16, 1918 he signed one of his final pre-deployment letters by saying, “Au revoir, ma chère, Joe.” In his final stateside letter, he wrote a brief message, which he signed, “Yours affectionately, Joseph.” The use of his full name…

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Condolence Letters

Writing a sympathy message to a person who has lost a loved one can be one of life’s most awkward and challenging endeavors. It is a task many people avoid altogether, for fear of saying the wrong thing. And yet, acknowledging another person’s loss can make a meaningful difference. This past year has not been a kind one for me in terms of personal loss. Friends and family also have lost loved ones: fathers, mothers, brothers, nephews, spouses, colleagues, grandparents, dear friends, in-laws, cousins, daughters, sons – and yes, beloved pets - the list of those…

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Letters from France 1917 – 1919

This story of love and separation during the First World War came to me quite by accident. My colleague Jennifer Greenlee and her family have been looking for an archive that could become an appropriate yet accessible permanent home for 140 letters written between 1917 and 1919. The letters, written by her grandfather Joseph Bosque to his sweetheart (and later his wife, Jennifer’s grandmother), Annie Corbett, described his experiences during Army basic training in Jacksonville, Florida and later, from his post in France. As noted by Jennifer’s late cousin Tom Bosque, who published a compilation of…

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National Card and Letter Writing Month

The United States Postal Service kicked off National Card and Letter Writing Month on April 1. “Letter writing improves social and penmanship skills. More importantly, it helps create lasting memories with the people you care about most,” said U.S. Postal Service Judicial Officer William Campbell at an event held in Washington, D.C. This year the Postal Service, in collaboration with Scholastic, is encouraging classroom activities that teach children to write. The occasion of National Card and Letter Writing Month was marked by the issuance of a colorful new From Me to You Forever stamp. The stamps…

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Wartime Letters

High on a shelf in the closet of my parents’ bedroom there was a box full of letters, written from 1942–1944. It was wartime, and my father, a Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, was stationed in Tiburon, but spent his days on a World War I era minesweeper, the U.S.S. Eider. He was 21 years old in 1942, and my mother was 19. As a teenager, I very much wanted to read the letters, but because I was told not to, I didn’t. There are two kinds of children, it seems: those who won’t take no…

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Mailbox Magic
Mailboxes, Sausalito, CA Photo by Tibby Storey

Mailbox Magic

The magic of a mailbox is not necessarily what it looks like, but what it contains. That special envelope, perhaps a baby announcement, a love letter, an official job offer, or even a much-needed tax refund check, are all pieces of mail that can brighten one’s day. When I left home for the first (and last) time at the age of 17 to attend the University of California, Berkeley, a mere ten miles from my home town of Lafayette, California, it was a given that surprise in-person visits from family were not allowed. This was my…

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Readers Corner – Wedding Etiquette

Dear Readers, As always, I enjoy and appreciate receiving your comments and letters. The following are excerpts from letters received about the post "Wedding Etiquette," See also comments posted on the site. "Happy mother of the bride!" LETTERS Just read your posting and enjoyed very much!  As for timelines, I'm happy to receive a thank you anytime!  I know manners have changed dramatically in the past decade or so, and I'll accept any form of thank you!  Although with my limited experience, because my kids or their friends don't tend to get married, it seems when…

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Letters in the New Year

Welcome to 2015. Holiday cards and letters have been filed away, wrong sizes or colors have been exchanged, and now we must play catch up - pay bills, mind our New Year’s resolutions, and most likely, watch our waistlines, after some good holiday eating. Each new year, I vow to be more on top of things, but somehow, the late year holiday frenzy always gets in the way. But I am happy to report that I hand wrote, stamped and mailed all of my year-end greetings this year, even though Social Correspondence suffered. After all, the…

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Winter Mailbox

It’s that time of year again. As fall moves into winter, the days grow shorter, darkness comes early, the weather turns gloomy and our mailboxes are filled to capacity, thanks to a series of cyclical events. First, election season mail begins as early as August and generally ends the first week of November. Campaign flyers and brochures, endorsement cards and newsletters pile up quickly. Smiling candidates, often posed with adorable children, become familiar faces. The closer and more heated the race, the more likely it is that the direct mail pieces will multiply and take on…

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