New literary journal to celebrate the art of the letter

A handwritten letter
01 Oct 2013 13:22:30.017
PA 304/13

We are living in an age when we are more likely to fire off an email or send a quick text than to commit pen to paper and rely on the snail mail to deliver our words to our intended recipient.

Now, a new literary journal being launched at The University of Nottingham is to reflect on the timeless art of letter writing — in whatever format it happens to take.

The Letters Page, which sees its first edition published on Wednesday October 2, is being edited by Jon McGregor, bestselling Nottingham author and Professor of Creative Writing (Writer in Residence) in the University’s School of English.
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The journal will be officially launched by the University’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor David Greenaway, who will be symbolically posting out printed copies, as well as sending the first pdf version to subscribers via email.

The letter as a form

Professor McGregor said: “Letters are the oldest form of writing, and a key part of literary culture. Through The Letters Page, I hope we can explore what letter writing means to writers and readers today. After a lot of work behind the scenes, I’m very excited to be launching the first issue.”

The Letters Page came about when Professor McGregor began to explore the possibility of creating a new literary journal and started a blog to explore the theme on which it should focus.

He invited responses in the form of handwritten letters sent through the post and the correspondence he received quickly began to focus on the letter as a form — wondering about the differences between letters-on-paper and emails and reflecting on their own letter-writing history.

Professor McGregor added: “The medium became the message, and the idea of The Letters Page — a literary journal in letters — was born. Most of the letters we received were legible, most of the letters had something interesting to say about letter writing; a select few stood out, I felt, as fine pieces of writing regardless of form.

Fine pieces of writing

“In future we will be taking that ‘regardless of form’ to heart and looking for fine pieces of writing — essays, stories, poems, memoir, travelogue, reportage —which just happen to fit the generous parameters of the letter format.”

The first issue, which is composed of some of the most engaging correspondence received — which have come from as far afield as Canada and the US, Spain, France, Germany, Cyprus and the Republic of Ireland — focuses on letters sent home, letters from prison, letters of complaint and thanks and pleading, letters that carry news and love and a sense of time and place.

Submissions are now open for the second issue, loosely based around the theme of penpals.

The development of a new literary journal for creative writing was one of Professor McGregor’s key missions when joining the University. The journal will act as a vehicle for students to learn about reading and assessing high quality work. It will allow them to get hands-on editing and collating experience and to think about how different pieces of writing can fit together as a cohesive whole.

More information on The Letters Page and how to submit can be found on its website. It can also be followed on Twitter @TheLettersPage

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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.

Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…


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More information is available from Professor Jon McGregor at


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