Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Love Letter, a painting by Jean Honoré Fragonard



This oil painting by French artist Jean Honoré Fragonard (1732–1806) is titled "The Love Letter" and was painted in the early 1770s. It depicts the ages-old feeling of delight at receiving a love letter.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

It's National Handwriting Day — Write, Write, Write!

Who could be more enthusiastic about National Handwriting Day than a bunch of letter writers? Well, I suppose the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA) may be a little more excited about it. After all, they do sponsor the "holiday."

National Handwriting Day is celebrated on Jan. 23, the birthdate of John Hancock, an American patriot who took part in the American Revolution. As the president of the Congress when the Declaration of Independence was created, John Hancock is believed to be the first to sign the document. By far, his is the largest signature on the page.  That signature became so well known that even today, almost 240 years later, the name "John Hancock" is still recognized as a synonym for "signature." If someone says to you, "Put your John Hancock right here," they want you to sign something.

In honor of National Handwriting Day, take a few minutes today to write a letter -- by hand -- and mail it to someone. And, encourage them to do the same!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Scotland to offer fleeting glimpse of Robert Burns love letter

For a scant 90 minutes on Monday, January 25, the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh will put on display a letter written by 18th century poet Robert Burns.

According to a news release from the NLS, visitors to the library will be able to see the final letter that Burns wrote to Nancy McLehose which contains the famous song "Ae fond kiss." 

The letter was written on Dec. 27, 1791, as Nancy prepared to depart for Jamaica to attempt a reconciliation with her husband. The song expresses Burns's despair at the end of their relationship.

They had first met four years earlier in Edinburgh when Burns was unmarried. The couple exchanged a series of love letters using the pseudonyms Sylvander and Clarinda. It was a delicate situation given that Nancy was a married woman, and the relationship remained a platonic one.

Written by Burns in Dumfries, the letter informs Nancy that he is sending her some recently composed songs. Then, for the first time ever, he presents a song that has become famous around the world with its familiar opening lines:
"Ae fond kiss, and then we sever; Ae fareweel, and then forever!"
January 25 is Burns' birthday and known as Burns Day in Scotland. 

The letter will be on display in the Library boardroom at George IV Bridge, Edinburgh from 12:30 p.m. till 2 p.m. Edinburgh time on Jan. 25. Entry is free.

The Library café will also be serving haggis, neeps and tatties throughout the day as part of the Burns tradition.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Lost Love Letters of the World

From New Zealand to Indiana, families are discovering lost love letters and are reclaiming a bit of their personal history.

In Stratford, Taranaki, New Zealand, a bundle of love letters was found in an attic by the homeowners. When the daughter of the couple, who had written the letters during World War II, was found she immediately made the hours-long drive to pick up the letters. The family is delighted to have the letters that offer some insight into their parents' lives. Read the entire story in the Taranaki Daily News.

More than 8,000 miles away, in Indiana, Ben Doxtater Jr. and his sister, Joan Henson, have been reunited with a letter that their mother wrote to their father in World War II. He never received the letter, and after he made it home safely, it was forgotten about until it was discovered in Belgium, still unopened. Read more about that letter in the Chicago Tribune.

Monday, January 18, 2016

"I cannot breathe without you"

Most love letters, I'm sure, are kept private, tucked away in a corner of the closet or in the top drawer of a dresser, maybe hidden between the pages of a favorite book. But for those who are famous in our societies, lover letters do not always remain private. So, as the general public reads letters that were once meant for one set of eyes alone, it can seem as if we're somewhere we shouldn't be, overhearing a conversation we weren't meant to hear.

But, so many love letters written by the famous, the infamous and the not-so-famous are so eloquently written that we feel privileged to have the opportunity to read them.

For example, British poet John Keats, who lived from 1795 until 1821, wrote many letters, some of which were published in the mid-1800s, after his death. Keats was in love with Fanny Brawne, and this love letter he wrote to her is considered by many to be one of the finest examples of such ever written.

My dearest Girl,
This moment I have set myself to copy some verses out fair. I cannot proceed with any degree of content. I must write you a line or two and see if that will assist in dismissing you from my Mind for ever so short a time. Upon my Soul I can think of nothing else. The time is passed when I had power to advise and warn you against the unpromising morning of my Life. My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you. I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further. You have absorb’d me. I have a sensation at the present moment as though I was dissolving. I should be exquisitely miserable without the hope of soon seeing you. I should be afraid to separate myself far from you. My sweet Fanny, will your heart never change? My love, will it? I have no limit now to my love. Your note came in just here. I cannot be happier away from you. ‘Tis richer than an Argosy of Pearles. Do not threat me even in jest. I have been astonished that Men could die Martyrs for religion — I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more — I could be martyr’d for my Religion — Love is my religion — I could die for that. I could die for you. My Creed is Love and you are its only tenet. You have ravish’d me away by a Power I cannot resist; and yet I could resist till I saw you; and even since I have seen you I have endeavoured often “to reason against the reasons of my Love.” I can do that no more — the pain would be too great. My love is selfish. I cannot breathe without you.
Yours for ever
John Keats

Oh, what a way with words he had!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

"The Love Letter" by Vermeer



The Love Letter was painted by Dutch painter Johannes (Jan) Vermeer in about 1666. The painting shows a maid delivering a letter to a young woman.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Love Letter board game



Maybe it's considered more of a card game; I'm really not sure. But, the game of "Love Letter" is listed on www.boardgamegeek.com.

Published by Alderac Entertainment Group, "Love Letter" is based on the scenario of players trying to get a love letter to a princess as other players try to thwart their efforts. There are several versions of the game, including ones with themes such as The Hobbit, Batman and Santa.

The game seems to be readily available, with prices online ranging from $6 to $15, depending on the version and the shop.

It looks like it might be a fun way to take a break from real letter writing!

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