The Lost Art of Letter Writing


The love of pouring emotions on a postcard, an inland letter, or just a plain paper; the excitement of opening an envelope inside which there were love, tenderness, and feelings that were personal, was always something special. Do you remember that bygone era of letter-writing? Yes, I’m talking of the snail mails, the only way of keeping in touch with family, relatives, and friends even in the 90’s when the internet was not an everyday matter for the hoi polloi.

The internet has made the world a smaller, more familiar place. So much so that we can exchange words with anyone residing anywhere in the world within minutes. We can have live chat, we can exchange real-time pictures, and what not. Of course, we are indebted to this blessing of science and technology which has helped to accede to the growing demands of humankind. But, a little, silly question keeps on hovering; has the internet made us simulated? Has it taken away the simple joy and happiness from our life making us robotic?

I had a number of pen-pals during my schooldays. I’d lost all of them in the course of time. I remember the exhilaration and cheerfulness a single airmail could bring in those days. There was something magical about ripping open an envelope flown across countries, oceans and seas. It was something personal, very much of it.

My grandma used to write to me while she was away from us, staying with my uncle. I could feel her words caressing me all through while holding the letter close to my bosom. It was drenched with love. Pristine. One would never be able to find such pure feelings in an email. It’s simply not possible. Not because we are running out of words but because an email is not a three-dimensional being; it’s not palpable, intuitive.

Letter writing is one of the most beautiful ways to express human emotions. It lacks today’s on-the-spot acknowledgement, but it has the spontaneity of feelings. The fruit of patience is always sweet, and so is the case with a letter. It keeps us waiting, tests our patience and, is delivered with a sweet surprise.

Letter writing is a lost art, in the truest sense. In today’s world, we want instant response, be it real or artificial. We don’t have time to stand and stare. But the thought of a pen etching down a verbiage of thoughts on a piece of paper fascinates me. It’s not a laconic, mundane, way of pressing the keypad; it’s about relishing the thoughts, thinking about the person I’m writing to and, penning it down.


Why Do I Think Letter Writing Is An Art And Needs To Be Revived?

Your handwriting is a part of your personality.

When we write a letter, the personal touch comes with the handwriting. It isn’t a downloaded font. It is an inimitable work of a person’s hand. Be good or bad, cursive or block, legible or illegible, it genuinely displays the person’s effort. A handwriting also tells us a million other things, but that’s not germane to our discussion.

Letter writing takes time and hence, shows your sincerity.

To write a letter one has to pay quite an amount of time. (Sounds like a Gordian knot in today’s world, huh?) You need to think before you write because there is no ‘backspace’ or ‘delete’ button. And, just for that very reason, the feelings are genuine, you think of the person while writing a letter. A text message with the words “I love you” would never be able to manifest the feelings poured on a love-letter.

Letters outlive you!

They do, always. A few years ago, while sorting out things from our old cupboards, I got a bunch of very old letters. One of them was written by my grandpa to my grandma while he was staying away. The envelope still had traces of rose petals in it, the evidence of their love; the fragile, yellow, paper holding a testimony to their adoration for each other.

No one will ever care for the numerous texts and emails we may have sent to a number of people. But, a letter lasts. It is passed through generations as a treasure, as a legacy.

“In an age like ours, which is not given to letter-writing, we forget what an important part it used to play in people’s lives”. – Anatole Broyard

When did you last write or receive a letter? We would like to know.

Picture Courtesy: here

122 responses to “The Lost Art of Letter Writing

  1. hey, you echoed my views.. so true, sadly, that beautiful art of penning emotions is more or less outdated now. still keep files and files of old letters.During one of the recent transfers, while unpacking, I came across them and was really excited to see those old, beautiful memories come alive through those bundles of faded letters….. miss them.

  2. Maniparna Di you have covered a very important discussion here, its really very good to read your posts and the explanations.
    “Love” has become “Luv” —not only in writing, it has affected the emotions also.
    but you know, though no one send me or my family any letter in post card/ inland letters but still sometime we send letters by post cards to our near and dear ones, even three months ago we send a letter to my younger maternal uncle.

  3. I wrote a 4 page long letter a month ago, and my handwriting at the end of it was so different from when I started it. Even when I wanted to write more, my fingers didn’t cooperate

  4. I’m thankful that there is no penetration of internet in my far flung village. My family still receives and send (inland) letters to my relations living there. And it’s a joy to hear the postman calling us in the afternoons and handing us over the blue, semi printed, semi handwritten folded piece of voices, The best part is beginning and ending, when you start with a ‘Dear….’ and end with ‘ Love…’. Moving your finger to write these two words is a joy.

    Very thoughtful post Maniparna,

  5. I can so much relate to it. I am a person who completely believes in making a person feel special through letters, hand made cards, etc.
    I still write letters. Whenever I send anyone a gift, I always send it with a handwritten letter. And when I receive a handwritten letter, a sketch, a note, I feel so special.
    Thanks for this beautiful post, Maniparna🙂

  6. Nicely captured. And coincidence too….I was just going through my collection of letters that I used to get when I was in the hostel. Sigh! It is fun reading them again

  7. Wow, pen-pals. I miss those letters I used to write. Recently on a trip to Rajasthan my daughter and I used the tourist post cards to write to our friends. Lot of then “messaged” back a thanks, it felt good.
    We even posted one to ourselves. It is there on display in her room now.
    Thanks for your post to give me so many nice memories

  8. It’s been ages since I wrote my last letter! But those are memoirs to be cherished for a lifetime just like you still cherish your grandparents’ letters. :’)

  9. How I used to write letters to my lover some fifteen years back. There was a time when I used to write one letter a day for nearly three months. Long gone are those wonderful days making each letter special with gold dust, small red hearts, perfumes, a lock of hair etc….

  10. I have started writing letters to my digital diary. But that’s the best I can do to carry on the format that I find so expressive.

  11. I wrote a letter to my mom about 3 years back…just because I wanted to send my feelings to her in my own handwriting…..She returned a letter too….and we both will cherish these letters forever…..But letter-writing is gone, and here in US, handwriting has gone too….with kids working mostly on chromebooks…how my heart weeps when I see this….I make my son write at home but I wonder how long he will do that….Do you know about Letters to Juliet that are sent on Valentine’s Day…?

    • It would be a pity if handwriting takes a step behind. A handwriting reflects a person’s character as well; so says the study of Graphology. It’s nice to know that you make your son write at home, but for how long…yes, the question arises😦

      Letters to Juliet – you mean the book?

  12. Truly Maniparna.. Writing a letter is so personalised. You pour your feelings and love in it. I actually shows your efforts.. Liked it🙂
    Happy writing!!

  13. I haven’t written a letter for ages… not sure when I will write either.😦
    You did touch upon the various positives of letter writing. I have some old letters stacked away.🙂

  14. I agree to the core with your outpourings. Julian Barnes has made certain astute observation regarding the advent of email and the corresponding shift in our lives with that. A person could, for example, write a mail to his or her beloved but would not post it for years, or sometimes for the entire life. Many times the contents would get changed before the act of posting. There would be procrastinations, ruminations, mental duels to many a confessions or holding back of secrets and the corresponding impact on the lives of the all concerned.

  15. As you so rightly identify, Mani, the hand-written letter “has the spontaneity of feelings” which somehow elude the digital medium. Actually, you’ve inspired me to write by hand a letter to a very dear friend, and which I shall begin straight away!

  16. Yes I miss writing letters also Maniparna.. I used to write often, like you to pen pals, and to my Gran who lived a distance away whom we spent school holidays with.
    Which is why I so love writing long hand in my journals.. May we never lose the art of writing.. And I was taught to write with all the swirls and loops, unlike many who today almost print their words as they write..
    Wonderful Post..
    Love and Blessings to you
    Sue xxx

  17. Thank you for this post! I love postcards with handwritten note, and letters.
    Last time I wrote a letter was actually just couple weeks ago. I send a letter and card with a little gift for a friend who will get married in another continent, which unfortunately I won’t be able to attend. She sends the invitation via post with a sweet handwritten note that makes the invitation so personal…

  18. Letters are wonderful, this has come up quite a bit this year on WordPress interestingly, perhaps a writer’s movement could be started from this?

    I can’t remember the last time I received a letter but I know it was a proper event, not just checking your inbox but keeping it with me until I had quality time to read (and caress) it.

  19. I couldn’t agree more regarding the lost art of lettering writing, Mani! It was just a couple of weeks ago that I sent a funny card I had made to a friend. I remember receiving letters from my grandfather and imagining him writing the letter in his small den with his pens organized beautifully. I’d smell the paper and try to draw out the smell of his Old Spice cologne! I felt him closer to me whenever I received those letters. Thank you for your lovely post and guiding me down memory lane!

    • Oh! I can so much relate to your memory, Rose. As I have said in the post, I used to receive letters from my grandma and my feelings are similar to yours…I so much loved to feel her words…🙂
      Thanks a lot for sharing your wonderful memory…🙂

  20. I agree to it truly and even I miss those moments when I open my treasure box and read the old letters from the family and friend .. Thanks for sharing this Mani ..:)

  21. There is nothing much to add to your wonderfully written narrative about letter-writing, Mani. The personal element involved in the process of putting pen to paper is as irreplaceable as one’s parents. I belong to the era of letters, pen-friends, land phones, steam locomotives, cycle-rickshas and the like, and, therefore, a witness to how the advances in science and technology have totally transformed lives over last fifty years. I would have probably written my last personal letters to my late father during the early 1990s. I have a few letters written by him as part of my memorabilia. No encores for some treasures in life, letter-writing is one of them.

    • You have explained the feeling very well, Sir. You have witnessed a great transformation. I think it has made your life all the more colourful and full of memories and myriad experiences. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts…🙂

  22. Lovely’s sad I don’t remember the last time I wrote or even received a hand written letter…you are right they are so special a lost art that the next generation will probably never know

  23. I pretty much never write letters or postcards anymore. A birthday card at best. But I was reading a biography where the woman kept talking about getting letters and postcards from her lover when he was traveling away from her, and I was thinking how romantic that was and how something is missed these days by not doing that.

    • Even I don’t write letters to anyone now. But I miss receiving them. The personal touch makes all the difference as you’ve mentioned in the case of the lady…. phone calls, SMS, Internet etc have killed that romanticism…

  24. I love this post Maniparna. I smiled when I saw your reference to pen pals. I had one in Taiwan and one in Australia and what a treat it was to receive a letter. Yes, it came with effort, buying special writing paper, buying stamps, posting then waiting with expectancy. There’s so much joy in anticipation.

    I had a long distance relationship with my husband for a while so I also know what writing love letters was about. Even telephones and telephone booths. I don’t mind the instant gratification of the internet – it has its merits but that care and patience you speak of is spot on. Btw, make a turn at my blog where I’ve mentioned you in my Happiness tag😀

  25. Pingback: The Lost Art of Letter Writing | my galaxy sr·

  26. Ohhhh..Maniparna, you took me back to the lovely days of the good old letters with personalized and customized embellishments. Undoubtedly, the pen pals’ letters brought the fondest memories which is truly unmatched and the euphoria on the greetings from dear and near on New year and other festivals…this post is a real tear jerker…


  27. Letters reveal raw emotions such as joyous or unrequited love; a letter bares the soul to just one other person. An email can never convey the same texture as a handwritten letter.
    We used to wait for letters from our friends and relatives. The sight of the neighbourhood postman used to kindle hopes for letters. “Uncle, koi dak kya kya?”

    The human touch, the raw feelings are missing in the emails. The internet & mobiles have totally erased the culture of letter writing, nowadays. I am also a victim, like everybody else!🙂

  28. Loved this sweet nostalgic post on the lost art of letter writing. In the times of email and Whatsapp, it seems to be a forgotten art. Handwritten letters were personal possessions kept inside the cupboards and to be cherished over and over again. I can imagine that you would have treasured the letters from your grandmother and your pen pals.The last letters I wrote, I think, were in the 90s.

    • Truly we have forgotten this art. Time being the main factor and there are a few others. Those letters are really a treasure to me. These days, I write only small notes. I received a letter from a friend regarding his marriage a few years ago along with a card. That was the last one I received…🙂

  29. You have explained it so beautifully. The joys of writing and receiving mails. I remember storing all the letters I got in a trunk and not discarding them coz they were so dear. The same can’t be said of emails can they?:)

    Lovely post. Straight from the heart.

    • True, the old letters are too much treasured to get rid of… they bring back memories and stories and incidents and what more, they make the concerned persons alive again in our minds…🙂 Thanks for sharing your feelings…❤

  30. Except for hand written cards I have never written letters or received letters from anyone. I remember the day I received my first email though. See, that is the problem, but I don’t remember what was mentioned it that except that it was sent by a friend. Letters are indeed more personal and ever lasting.

  31. A profound post, Maniparna. I got a few handwritten cards for my birthday; otherwise it is more than a year since I received a rather wonderful handwritten letter from a former client expressing heartfelt appreciation

  32. Such a beautiful, heartfelt and touching post about letter writing, Mani. I agree with you. These days so many of us are caught up chasing the next best thing that we seldom have the patience to think about what we’ve done, let alone have the patience to write our thoughts down as you mentioned. But it is so true that it is hard to imitate someone’s handwriting – writing a letter and putting pen to paper and when we’re focused, we essentially write from the heart.

    The last time I wrote a letter was, well, a birthday card. It was one of my friend’s birthday and I wrote a quite a long message about how great a friend and person she is. I hope she likes it🙂

    • She definitely liked it because handwritten messages show our love and care for the concerned person. We all lead a busy life nowadays, but I think, all of us would be more than happy to receive a handwritten letter or card. Thanks a lot, Mabel, for sharing your thoughts…🙂

    • Cards are about the only letters I write too, I am a little ashamed to say. I’m guessing emails don’t count😉 I do hand write my poetry before I type it though and I think that by writing words onto paper we think more about them, especially if we write in ink… even better if it is a fountain pen – I love the scratchy sound it makes on the paper🙂

  33. The beauty of writing letters spelled out so beautifully and in a poetic fashion. In the year 2000s, I was still receiving and sent hand written cards two years back, something I gotta do again!! Let’s create a human chain. The computer can in no way bring alive such tender emotions and joy:)

    Awesome post.

  34. Yessssssss… what a post.

    Took me years back when ever sunday was letter writing day and we used those blue inland envelopes to write to our friends..

    And even when I came to uk for a the first few years receiving and sending was so much fun but then mobiles came.. and then Internet happened. .

    In my work drawer I still got some aerogrammes that I use to write letter to my parents from here..

    Maybe we bloggers can revive this send letter to each other.. We did do that too a few years back.. wrote to each other …

  35. Finally after long time I get to read your post🙂

    I received a letter recently from one of the dearest bloggers here. She had taken quite a lot of effort and I genuinely loved that letter. I wrote to her back as well.:)

    Thanks for the post! Have a great day…

  36. I agree with you, dear friend.
    I continue to pen pal, even in present day🙂 Some of blog readers have become friends – through snail mail🙂

    Best wishes,

  37. Receiving letters from family and friends from across the world was such a wonderful feeling. Eagerly awaiting the postman, going to the post office to buy the stamps ….were all little joys of life. I remember initially when I would write on an inland letter my lines would all go in an ascending order…..😉 gradually learnt to write in a straight line and felt so accomplished 😃.
    Enjoyed reading your post Maniparna…..sweet memories down the memory lane.

  38. Love the post, Maniparna! It reminds me of schooldays when we used to write letters to friends during summer vacations. And I wished them on birthdays and new year with my own handmade greeting cards. Nowadays, there is no one I can write to…😦 However, I still use pen and paper to draft most of my articles.😀

  39. What a special heart-warming post Mani…loved every word and love the idea! I don’t even remember when I had written a letter…probably in 1977! The pens and ink pots are a rare object in our homes these days as they had been replaced by ball-points long ago and those beautiful writing pads…long forgotten!

    I agree with the sentiment that a letter carries a special fragrance, an effort, a memory of a loved one. The joy and excitement of receiving a written word is comparable to a good book in which we could turn back and sometimes peep at the ending by just turning a few pages!

    I don’t think this art can be revived in this digital world, pacing faster than our thoughts…this is an i-pad and smart phone generation…not fair to pull them back!🙂

    • Pen and ink-pots are long gone and we have gel pens now having the effect (almost) of the fountain pens. But, those pens are treasure…just like those old letters. It’s really difficult to revive the art of letter-writing but, it still brings a great joy when someone writes to us or sends us a handwritten card….🙂 Thanks a lot, Balroop, for expressing your thoughts here…🙂

  40. a few of us friend (bloggers includes) write letters to each other for that love of paper, pen, the time, and sending memories.. it was easier earlier, now with the keyboard, if somebody sends a letter it really means they love you..! it hurts to write..

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