Examples in letter-writing manuals: real or fiction?

After our group discussion of last Tuesday, I became interested to know whether or not the exemplary letters in the discussed letter-writing manuals such as The Complete Letter Writer were real or not. Even though my primary impression was that these exemplary letters might be considered as genuine letters, further investigation has indicated that these exemplary letters show very little similarities to authentic historical letters of the same time. Susan Whyman states in her book named The Pen and The People: English Letter Writers 1660-1800, that “one way to approach this problem is to compare the models suggested for use in manuals with actual letters. In truth, few letters were found in family archives that resembled those in published guides. Nor were there references to using manuals in real letters, though examples sometimes appear in personal book lists” (2009, p. 28). Although the exemplary letters of letter-writing manuals provide us with a primary realistic image, it can be concluded from the lack of factual and historical data that these letters are not authentic historical documents written during real correspondences, instead they can be considered as fictional products of various authors.

References
Whyman, Susan (2009). The Pen and the People: English Letter Writers, 1660-1800. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in letter writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Thank you for commenting on this post!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s