When was the last time you wrote a letter? With a pen?

Last week Oxford University neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield was discussing the death of the letter. Emails did a good job of wiping it out, or starting the trend, and social media is helping finish it off for good. Why send that yearly catch-up in handwritten ink when you can keep tabs on your loved ones online? Baroness Greenfield says soon kids won’t have any concept of why we would even hand write a letter to begin with, let alone send one. And let’s face it, she’s kind of right…


“When I moved from Melbourne to the country a few months ago, I vowed I would write more handwritten letters. Free from the distractions of friends, family and Chadstone shopping centre, I thought a stint in the country would give me more time for the more simple things in life; I’d bake scones after work, learn to knit, star gaze at night and write letters to the people I loved and missed.

Oh how wrong I was.

Life did slow down in the country, but Facebook did not. Nor did Twitter and nor did the online availability of Gossip Girl season four. And it didn’t take me long to realise that letters sent in the country are about as useful as they are in the city. Which is not at all. (And suffice to say the ornate paper, envelopes and 100-plus stamps I bought at the beginning of my step-back-in-time adventure, now lay idly in the bottom of my desk drawer.)

It’s been a while since I’ve written and sent a letter. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve received a letter that wasn’t a bill or a reminder from the blood bank. I used to be heavy into postcards, but nowadays I’m more inclined to whack up a Facebook status and hand deliver cards when I come home from a trip.

More and more, I’m seeing less and less handwritten notes in the mail. Post cards are drying up, and Christmas cards? Well, the mantelpiece is not a decked as it once was on Christmas Eve. Love letters have been outdone with YouTube tribute songs and letters of resignation are fast becoming superfluous with the right Facebook status.


Is it just a matter of time before handwritten notes cease to exist at all? Or handwriting for that matter?

I’m a fan of email. Big fan. But you know what? I’m also a fan of letters sent in the mail. Because knowing that someone has taken the time to sit down for more than 30 seconds and write a letter using a pen is really quite a heartwarming gesture. Basically translated, it means they must really like you. Or they’re like really, really old.

I noticed this article was floating around online news websites. It read:

A 200-year-old love letter has been found hidden in the arm of a chair at a furniture upholsterer in Tewkesbury. The note, written in French, was bought in a house clearance in France. It includes the line: “I burden you with kisses and caresses until… I need you in this moment of desire. I love you.”

Two hundred years from now, what will we have worth saving? An iPhone with a smashed screen and a PC with a hard drive that’s more complicated to navigate than Where’s Wally in Hollywood, most likely. Between my laptop, phone, camera and countless USB sticks I can’t even find files from three days ago. Good luck to the future.

Recently at work we received a letter written on a type writer. People are handling it and passing it around like it’s a kitten. One person even suggested framing it. That’s how special letters are. (And okay, the person who suggested framing it was me.)”

When was the last time you received a handwritten note in the mail?  Do you still send handwritten letters?