Letters

Letter written by King George V as a child
Letter written by King George V as a child © Bodleian Library, Oxford

OK, so we’ve got Facebook and Twitter and email and Youtube and txt (LOL) and telephones and four million other ways of communicating with each other but nothing beats receiving a letter. A real letter, in an envelope with a stamp, delivered to your letter box by a postie in a red van.

A hundred years ago, letter writing was a real art. Ladies would include it as part of their daily routine – that’s why antique shops are full of exquisite Davenport writing desks and glass ink stands. In large houses, letters would be delivered by the butler on silver trays, such was their significance.

I love it when I receive letters from children who have read my books. These tend to come either individually via my publisher (as decreed on my website) or in batches after a school visit. Either way, I’m happy. I might not be as happy if they arrived in sackfuls every day as I’m sure happens to JK Rowling and Jacqueline Wilson but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

stamps
stamps

My most recent letters and e-mails have been about Girls FC. it is great that these books are beginning to find a readership – especially as they are about girls’ football, quite a niche market. Two letters came from girls in a school near Newcastle. They were both beautifully written and even contained a self addressed envelope – I could tell their teacher was on the ball.

I received a batch of letters from pupils at Padiham Green Primary School this week who’d been to the Reads United event at the town hall in early March. On card and colourfully illustrated, they brought a huge smile to my face. It’s the quirky little details they included that I liked. Aaron wrote: ‘Firstly I would like to thank you for the nice little chat about your books. Secondly, I enjoyed it because I stood in front of about fifty people holding flags of your confusing family.’

Leah commented: ‘I have never met an author before but now I have. A lady like you has a great sense of humour and can persuade children very fast!’

I’d obviously chosen my extracts well that day. Luke put: ‘My favourite part of the day was when you read your book (Whats Ukrainian For Football?) However, it really got to my emotions when you said that the players got shot. Nevertheless you were very funny indeed, especially about Lily Parr’s penalty.’

That’s me. Make ’em laugh, make ’em cry.  Thank you Padiham Green.

I keep all of my letters; I have boxes of them bolstering the shelves in my study. I know there will come a day when I have to have a big clear out but I see them as part of my archive. One must have something to leave to the nation when one pops one’s clogs, don’t you know.

PS: Just been to check my post and found a letter from writer Sally Prue containing a photocopy of a review of Do Goalkeepers Wear Tiaras? that appeared in The School Librarian alongside her new book Wheels of War (OUP).  Cushty!  Happy Easter all!

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