To the Letter
Every letter contains a miniature story, and here are some of the greatest. From Oscar Wilde’s unconventional method of using the mail to cycling enthusiast Reginald Bray’s quest to post himself, Simon Garfield uncovers a host of stories that capture the enchantment of this irreplaceable art (with a supporting cast including Pliny the Younger, Ted Hughes, Virginia Woolf, Napoleon Bonaparte, Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, David Foster Wallace and the Little Red-Haired Girl). There is also a brief history of the letter-writing guide, with instructions on when and when not to send fish as a wedding gift. And as these accounts unfold, so does the tale of a compelling wartime correspondence that shows how the simplest of letters can change the course of a life.
Garfield being Garfield, there's a rich cull of curiosities . . . A shining success -- John Carey * * The Sunday Times * * Wonderful . . . One of the things which makes this book so attractive is Garfield's enjoyment of his subject. He writes with a winning informality and freshness -- Diana Athill * * Literary Review * * A wonderfully elegant history * * Observer * * A brilliant account of a lost art . . . funny letters, sad letters, pompous letters, famous letters, farewell letters, saucy letters, letters from soldiers and letters from swindlers: they are all here -- Craig Brown * * Mail on Sunday * * A hymn of praise to twenty centuries of letter-writing. It spurs a desire to reach once more for the pad and envelope...Garfield's knowledge is wide and his enthusiasm matchless -- Libby Purves * * The Times * * Excellent, amusing and moving * * Financial Times * * Superb * * Independent on Sunday * * Garfield is an elegant and perceptive writer . . . his judgment is immaculate * * Daily Mail * * To the Letter thrills and engages most when it cuts to the core of human relationships, showing personalities pinned to the page in all their painful imperfections * * Observer * * Delightful * * Daily Mail * * An informative lament for the mail * * Metro * * From wooden tablets dug up at the ancient Roman garrison Vindolanda, UK, to the epistolary gems of novelist Virginia Woolf, this is a billet-doux to two millennia of the impassioned, often life-changing power of private correspondence * * Nature * * Garfield has a keen eye for what makes a good letter . . . he is a knowledgeable guide to his subject * * Scotsman * * A Paean to the dying art of letter writing...fascinating...moving and illuminating * * Herald Scotland * * Wonderful * * Woman & Home * * A love letter to what is already an outdated mode of communication . . . Cantering through two millennia of letters with Garfield as our guide, it's fun to spot the things that never change * * Guardian * * A well-timed, engrossing study of epistolary art through the ages ... an inspiring read * * The Lady * * Stuffed with marvellous anecdotes, fascinating historical tidbits and excerpts from epistolary masters both ancient and modern . . . infectious * * New York Times * * An addictive account of a dying artform * * Red * * A book to recommend * * Spectator * * A shining tribute to the dying art of letter writing * * The Sunday Times * * In digging through two centuries of letters, Garfield unearths a heap of epistolary ruins . . . fascinating . . . Quirky stories abound * * Washington Post * * Garfield has impressively condensed 2000 years and a lot of wonderful characters into an accessible, comprehensively-researched book bubbling with his customary wit and joy in the absurd . . . A fascinating book * * We Love This Book * * An endlessly informative book from one of Britain's best non-fiction writers * * Reader's Digest * * Fresh and informative throughout. It would be difficult for anyone to read this book without finding something they enjoyed or found incredibly interesting. I would recommend this book to anybody * * Literature Works * * Wonderful . . . vivid, witty and moving * * Sunday Business Post * * Utterly compelling and surprisingly moving . . . Full of fascinating facts and wonderful stories * * Sunday Business Post * *
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