The Dying Art of the Handwritten Letter

by Bernadette La Mazza

The inspiration behind my next novel…

EmmaMy maternal grandmother’s birthday was at the beginning of August; she would have been 100 years old. She was a small woman, not even 4’10, but full of spunk and a heart of gold. Due to my father’s job, I was rarely in the States growing up, so when I was, I took full advantage of spending time talking to my grandparents. My grandmother, Emma, loved to talk about my grandfather, Vince. He was a year younger than her and she was worried he wouldn’t want to date her once he found out. Vince on the other hand, said he knew Emma was older, but he really liked her and didn’t mind if she was, he loved her for her heart, everything else was a bonus.

VinceOn her birthday I was thinking about when Vince was in WWII. Emma was at home with my aunt and pregnant with my mother. She worked, like many other women did at the time, to support the war effort and to support her family. It was a difficult time but she never spoke about the difficulties and the challenges, she spoke of the letters Vince wrote her. She cherished the letters, was excited and happy just to see his handwriting, and read and reread them throughout the war to keep her hopes up, keep her positive and to know her husband was ok.

Today it is easier and faster to send an email than a handwritten letter or card. Although communication may have increased in some ways, unfortunately, the art of the handwritten letter is beginning to fade. Emma kept the letters, she said it brought him closer to her and made her, if just for a while, know that he was near and that he loved her.

Emma and VinceI have been asked, what is your inspiration? What makes you want to write? I am currently working on my latest novel: If I Write You a Letter. It takes place during WWII and is based on my grandparents and their love letters. It focuses on the connection between two people, neighbors: he goes to war and she asks if she can write him to keep him company. Through the letters their relationship blossoms during a dark and uncertain time; it brings out the depth and impact handwritten letters can have and why so many who have written letters, hold onto them, cherish them and reread them. There is something special in taking the time, putting in the thought, picking the right card or paper, writing from your heart, knowing it will be received and cherished over and over.

The power of handwritten letters, especially love letters, still lingers. I used to sing at a nursing home. The residents always pulled out the letters they had gotten from their spouse and would read them to me. And there, just for a while, their spouse was with them again, holding their hand, blowing them a kiss.


Headshot - July 25 BlogBernadette La Mazza is a novelist and award winning playwright. An adventurer, she loves to listen, observe and create plays and novels. Her motto is: every day is a story in the making! Her first novel, Secrets and Stones is available on Amazon.