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Writing Through the Decades: "Routledge's Complete Letter Writer"

December! The final installment of the Letter Writing Through the Decades series is well and indeed here. The idea for this series started in Lockdown 2020 when online shopping lead to burst in collecting letter adjacent accessories. It's been a treat to explore the history of the times in which these guides were produced through their suggested forms and invitations. In today's blog we'll take a peek between the pages of this "Routledge's Complete Letter Writer".

Who & When:

This "Entirely New and Rewritten Edition" from Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited Publishers was written/edited by "Arnold Villers". While perhaps cleverly without publication date -- meaning it was reusable for some years before its necessary "updating" and reprinting, at a cost! -- this edition is interestingly attached to a male author or editor. Where as readers of the series will recall several earlier additions where attributed to female, or more "agony aunt" characters, I would place this edition in the mid 20th Century for its print quality, its construction both literally and grammatically.

Now we'll take a look at a sample of letter forms from the edition which may or may not prove practical for the modern reader in 2021!

Childs Play:

Throwing a children's party but not sure how to get every one on board? You might try this form letter from Ms. Manson. From flattery to nearly impervious passive aggressive construction this invitation is wrought iron.

On Finding Love, Again:

In this tender note its hard to miss the line "You and I have both known the joys and sorrows of matrimony". It's rarely easy to express ones feelings and we might not point to this as the first stop for a love letter but it is written with an empathy and understanding of shared experience that any individual can tweak and remodel to their needs.

"It is a terrible blow":

Love letters are a tricky business and not always guarantee a happy ending! Hence why guides like this and the others featured throughout the year might have been very helpful to the lady or lad hoping to luck out in love centuries ago. Thankfully this "Consoling with a Friend on a Disappointment in Love" is not the reply to the above letter. An interesting look at the affairs of a gentleman's heart this selection tells us the age of the volume with a line like "...I am convinced you will bear it like a man".

So while it's hard to pinpoint exactly when our guide above was printed -- it saddens the heart to have lost the dust jacket at some point before it came to our shelf! -- the historical context of the letter guides therein can still tell us plenty. Letter writing has and always will be the medium of choice for those little moments or big conversations. Putting pen to paper is a timeless practice and its been a delight to look over several volumes of advice on just how to perfect ones letters.

Get in Touch.

Thanks for reading! Did you enjoy these flip through history blogs? Let us know! Have a guide on yourself you'd like to chat about, or a letter story you're eager to share? Send us an email at

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