When You Write a Letter

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The friendly letter, according to this book, “…need not be written today; its composition may be deferred tomorrow or next week, or to that pleasant and indefinite future when we plan to accomplish all things worthy and worth while; it is the letter we write because it gives us pleasure to do so, or more likely because we hope to give some one else pleasure.”

One of my pen pals (Christi) was nice enough to send this to me when she came across it somewhere in her book scouting (a hobby we are both passionate about).

Written in 1921, Thomas Arkle Clark was the Dean of Men and Professor of Rhetoric at the University of IL. The book was printed in 1938 by Benj. H. Sanborn & Co. The six chapters of this small book (7″ x 4.5″) are:

Letter Writing
Materials and Form
The Friendly Letter
Formal Notes
The Business Letter
Letters of Courtesy

I enjoy reading books on letter writing and this one has been a gem. It gives a glimpse into the culture and norms of society and how those change over time. In reading the chapter on formal notes, Mr. Clark went into some detail on a dinner party that his sister hosted where he described the process of creating the invitations (written or engraved- only the vulgar would have theirs printed) and the corresponding acceptance notes (he described some as bizarre).

‘When You Write a Letter’ has been a joy to read and hold (I love old books, especially those with a subject that is meaningful to me). Thanks, Christi! In Letters & Journals I plan to have reviews of books on letter writing and journaling.

Now, I must be off to accomplish things worthy and worthwhile!

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  1. Stephanie on November 8, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    That sounds so sweet! I've gotten interested in books on letter-writing through letter-writing, too. I wonder how easy it would be to find "When You Write a Letter". It sounds fascinating.

    I guess I could request it through worldcat.org. Hmmm.

  2. The Missive Maven on November 10, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    What a fine quote!

  3. Letters From Midlife on November 13, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    What a sweet book. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. Elizabeth on November 15, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    I think we sometimes forget the delights of handwritten letters and also the delights of old books.
    One book published in the 1930's still resonates with me: If you want to write by Brenda Ueland.
    So inspiring.
    Came to your blog from dear Britt Arnhild.

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