When did you last write a letter? Perhaps it’s time to join the handwritten letter revival. Kelly Mullins – from Just About Dorset magazine – recently spoke to Dinah Johnson, founder of the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society, about the joy of handwriting and writing, and receiving, letters.
There’s something truly exciting about receiving a handwritten letter. Whether delivered in person or via your friendly postie, the thrill of that envelope bearing your name and the unknown words contained inside is something special, but is, unfortunately, also something we don’t get to experience much in this digital age of convenient communication.
The joy, too, of sitting down to write a letter is one much-missed. When was the last time you poured your thoughts, feelings, or emotions through a pen to paper?
We’re almost hard-wired now to giving a thumbs-up ‘like’ or heart to show our ‘love’, but with a letter, there’s something so much deeper and more heartfelt. Sadly, the art of letter writing is fading away, but one local society is trying to change that and put letters well and truly back on the map!
The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society was created by Dinah Johnson, not to enforce any backwards motion with regard to technology, but to bring together people who love to write and receive handwritten letters. And so far, the feedback has been great.
“I’ve had loads of lovely responses about it from friends and family (and some quite well known folk), Dinah tells us. “Paul Mayhew-Archer (who co-wrote The Vicar of Dibley) said he loved it, as did Madeleine Floyd (artist, illustrator and designer). Peter James (international best-selling author) commented on one of my blogs, Lucy Johnson (Health and Social Affairs Editor for the Sunday Express) thought I ‘might be on to something’, and Stephen Fry wrote a letter to say: ‘Bravo on setting up The Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society’, which was all very encouraging.”
The aim of the Society is to inspire people to write handwritten letters to each other, to stop the art form from dying out, to put the fun and meaning back into writing letters, to value the beauty of an individual’s handwriting, and to encourage everyone to write a letter to someone special.
So where better to start than with the younger generation – which Dinah recently did when trialling a Letter Writing Day at Leeson House, in Swanage, for her son’s school class. “It was such a lovely day and from the thank-you letters I received from the children (and adults), they really enjoyed themselves.
The children began to see that their letters were totally their own with no reading or marking from the grown-ups”.
Dinah welcomes members to the Society through its website, where you’ll find words of encouragement to put pen to paper, as well as an inspiring and entertaining monthly blog. And, this August, you can also discover the Handwritten Letter Appreciation Society at The Purbeck Valley Folk Festival; with a beautiful little shepherd’s hut as its home, the Society is bringing a little ‘Wow Factor’ to inspire potential writers. Dorset-based company, Plankbridge Ltd generously offered to bring their Writers Hut (of Chelsea Flower Show fame) so people can get on board with the project and make themselves at home, whilst writing inside.
Dinah tells us that “As well as letters to the outside world I’m hoping to have a little onsite postal service operating as well, with donations to Shelter.
“Songs from the Shed are going to come and visit us at the Festival, as is Hannah Scott (up-and-coming folk star) who is going to sing her song ‘Letter’ on the Writer’s Hut steps for me, and the wonderful Ninebarrow will also be popping along, too, to write and hopefully inspire others to do the same.
“Korby Lenker, all the way from Nashville, Tennessee, is coming to write a postcard, and Antoine and Owena, who are also performing at the festival, said they would write a lettery song, especially. It’s all pretty exciting”
Bringing an element of fun adds to the inspiration. Your letters don’t have to be serious, perfect, or of award-winning quality – heartfelt wins every time. As Dinah says, “Handwritten, personal letters are something so special. They are good for the heart, mind, and soul, I think.”