In this article, originally published in Crafts Beautiful magazine to celebrate Thinking of You Week 2015, Michelle Mackintosh talks about the importance of letter and handwriting.
I did not open a letter for ten years. It was a letter my father had written to me, to be read after his death. I couldn’t bear the thought that this would be the last correspondence I’d have from him. He had incredibly distinctive handwriting and I felt comforted by the sealed letter, like it was a constant reminder of his presence. Over the years I have thought a lot about the lost art of letter writing. It’s my hope that they will not be a thing of the past. People will still write letters. And they will be treasured and kept for future generations to enjoy and love.
My grandmother was born in the UK and came out to Australia as a young girl. Her great grandmother wrote profusely to her seven sisters and two brothers back in England. I grew up reading these letters and was always fascinated by them. They talked of a different age: the manners, delicate phrasings and love spoke to me of forgotten times. It sparked an interest in classic literature (my cat is called Bronte) and I’m now often categorised by friends and acquaintances as a girl from another time.
When I was in high school I had four months off school due to illness. While in hospital, my connection to the outside world was through writing letters. Receiving one in the mail brightened my day and took my mind off being sick. I spent hours intricately decorating the envelopes and perfecting my handwriting. It was at this point in my life I realised I wanted to draw pictures and design for a living.
A letter is something that you can treasure forever. The handwriting tells its own story about the sender. The contents of the letter, whether life changing or everyday musings, are written for the receiver alone. To me, all of these things are why I cherish letter writing. Because our communication options are now so vast, it’s an art that is no longer practised as it once was. I hope by writing and making Snail Mail, my new book, I have turned an inward passion outward. I want it to spark an interest in personal correspondence, putting thought into what you write and how you write it. And I would love for people to think about ways to pretty up envelopes, even consider asking the post office to show you their special edition stamps.
Make your letter’s presentation suit the receiver.
by Michelle Mackintosh