Letters in the news

Letters in the news

Letters have been much in the news in the UK over last week or so.

There was the release of an April 1961 letter written by Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe to a man he’d had casual sex with, and some accompanying FBI documents, which hit the headlines (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43631718). This was fuelled by a soon-to-be-screened TV drama about Thorpe’s 1979 trial for the attempted murder (by a hired gun!) of another man, who had been his secret lover. Yes, this was the late 1970s, which did things differently, although Thorpe’s arrogant bonkersness isn’t really explained by this.

Then an 1888 postcard purporting to be by ‘Jack the Ripper’, a notorious sexual murderer of five or more women, was auctioned and sold for £22,000 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-43955441). Perhaps it was, perhaps it wasn’t, by the murderer – but, whichever, what ghoul would want such a thing in their home, in their street, in their town? One of the discussions commented ‘it is in his hand’ and ‘he licked the stamp’, an attraction for some and appalling for others.

And then the letter of resignation by Amber Rudd, erstwhile British Home Secretary, was not only published in full but photographs of her handwritten ‘Dear Prime Minister’ and signature were also published. While all three are of (different kinds of) UK historical importance, it is the Rudd letter that is of epistolary significance – if something is important and public, then only a letter with proper address and a certified genuine signature will do.

Last updated:  4 May 2018