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Letter Writing: A Brief History

  • 3 min read
  • Mailing

In the past, letter writing was an incredibly important method for communication between two people, especially those who lived far from one another. With its interesting and vast history, letter writing may happen less and less, but its presence in the marketplace will last well into the future.

What Should I Write?

In 1862, Victor Hugo wrote the shortest letter ever seen through history to his publisher, enquiring about sales of his new book. What did he write? Well, he simply wrote the punctuation mark ‘?’, to which his publisher replied ‘!’. As simple as this may seem, this letter exchange became an iconic part of our communication history. In most cases, this extreme minimal approach probably isn’t encouraged, but messages that are concise and direct are often those that are best received. Stick to your topic, while keeping things personal. The person on the other side will thank you.

How Should I Write It?

As with any text form, there are certain conventions that come along with letter writing. During the 1800s, good letter writing skills were a sign that you’d been brought up well, and were taught to be not only polite and courteous, but also interesting. Rules that governed letter writing back then included ensuring your handwriting was neat and legible; making use of sophisticated language; and folding the letter neatly once finished. It’s funny how things like this haven’t changed- when writing letters today, letters that read well, are legible and follow the correct text conventions stand out.

How Should I Send It?

In the Persian Empire, letters were sent through a relay system of horses that travelled up to 160 kilometres a day. So the horses weren’t exhausted through the process, messengers would change horses at key points throughout their route. By the 12th century, messenger pigeons were used in Baghdad. Because of their innate homing abilities, pigeons made an ideal choice for sending messages and letters across countries and oceans. But luckily, today we have Australia Post! Place your letter into an envelope, label the front with the destination address, and the back with the origin address, and place it into your local postal box or Australia Post outlet.

Letter writing may be rarer in the digital age, but it’s a rather charming way to send and receive messages. Something to consider before you send that email!

Direct Mail Solutions are a company that know the benefits of mail, with over 15 years of experience in mail marketing communications. Get in touch by calling 1800 706 245 today.