I’ve just finished reading Jon Spence’s Becoming Jane Austen. I read it throughout last week and spent most of Sunday finishing it up so I could add it to my list of books finished in August. There was lots to enjoy about this thorough biography of the author’s life and family history. As I told my Facebook friends, it’s the book to read when you think you know all there is to know about Jane Austen.

One thing (of many!) that I’ve always found fascinating about Jane Austen is her devotion to writing letters. Most of what we know about her and her social circles are things we’ve read in her letters to others. Letter writing was a necessity in Austen’s day if one was to stay informed and in touch with friends and family. At times when they lived apart, Jane and her sister, Cassandra, were sometimes less than 20 miles away from one another, but their letter writing was thorough and consistent.

Nowadays, letter writing is a fanciful thing. Many people still enjoy it, but out of all our options for connecting with loved ones, writing letters is the one that takes the most time and preparation. It’s difficult to find pretty stationery and it takes extra time to go buy stamps. There’s no guarantee that the other person will write back and, if not, what seemed like something sweet and quaint can sometimes end up being disappointing.

I’ve had a few faithful pen friends over the years, and have encouraged my daughters in the tradition, as well. There’s just something about finding a quiet place to devour all that your friend has so lovingly put down for you to read. A handwritten letter is a special thing and leaves a beautiful record of life events that you can go back and enjoy over and over again. Who knows? Maybe future generations will be thankful for this permanent account of your life—just as we are with Jane Austen!

Here are some ideas to get you and your daughters started in letter writing:

  • exchange Scripture verses or encouraging quotes
  • share lines from your recent reading or a brief book recommendation and review
  • ask lots of questions and invite your pen friend to ask you back
  • share photographs or miniature artwork
  • sketch or photograph a tree in your yard and describe it; as seasons change, you can give an update
  • share lists: favorite books, thankful lists, top tens

Mrs. Sarah Coller

Happily married to Jamie and mother to nine sweet blessings, Sarah stays busy homemaking and homeschooling. Her passion is creating a comfortable and peaceful home for her husband and children. Thankful for God’s saving grace, Sarah hopes to leave a legacy that reflects His faithfulness. She blogs at Classical Homemaking and Belle's Library.

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Chrissie McIntyre September 2, 2014

Sara, thank you so much for all your writing ideas. I agree that the art of writing or snail mail (what my kids call it) has gotten lost in the last decade because of technology. People want things now, instant gratification, and kids can’t wait even minute for a good thing. I love this idea and hope more of us start writing love ones and friends snail mail.

christy virgil September 2, 2014

I love your views and suggestions. I always wrote to my grandmother in Prineville and she wrote back, as we only saw each other once a year. I wish I would have saved all of her letters. I have a few. I now, write to my grandchildren and save all of the letters I recieve from them.

Farrah September 2, 2014

I love this post! Writing letters is a great joy in my life. If you start a writing circle, I’d love to join.

Dianne Buchanan September 2, 2014

Handwritten letters are great. One of my best friends and I live about 20 minutes apart. We rarely see each other in person as she doesn’t leave her home, we rarely speak on the phone, we barely speak on Facebook, we don’t email… we write letters. Usually very long letters and we exchange them almost weekly. 🙂

Lana September 2, 2014

I LOVED THIS!!! I used to be a consistent letter writer. Until the day my friend hooked up with the internet. Then we began e-mailing, after I invested in the internet as well. But her replies were not so detailed anymore. I’ll admit, I was disappointed. I love this quote, “There’s just something about finding a quiet place to devour all that your friend has so lovingly put down for you to read.” You really do not get that with any other form of writing but by hand. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed it so much.

Audra Silva September 2, 2014

I love some of your ideas to add to letters. 🙂

Sarah Shotts September 9, 2014

Love handwritten letters! So near to my heart.

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