London: Michael O'Mara Books, c2012
This is quite a simple introduction to the whole world of letter writing (but isn't the cover lovely?)
Williams takes on many areas in this short book -- from the history of postal services worldwide, to a collection of letter-related quotes, to the how-to of letter writing, to love letters, last letters, and more, including a rather awkward page or two on email & netiquette, which I found slightly unnecessary.
While I enjoyed it, especially the early chapters, I felt it was too brief and had too wide a scope to really engage my interest for very long. Perhaps if I hadn't already read so many of these kinds of books it would have been more compelling, but oh well, I still enjoyed the reading. The sections are brief, the writing is straight-forward, the reader is never in doubt about what the writer is trying to say. Also there are some charming illustrative motifs throughout.
Some notable facts & quotes that I loved:
To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart ~ Phyllis Theroux
Fact: "The Romans established the first two-tier mail system....light carriages called rhedae, pulled by fast horses, were used for the 'first-class' service while two-wheeled carts (birolae), pulled by oxen, provided a slower service."
Fact: Hammurabai was considered to have created one of the first postal-systems, based on couriers on horse-back.
This would make a great introduction to the whole world of letters for someone just beginning to indulge their interest. It's brief and just the right size to carry with you and dip into at will. It's a very pretty volume, with that delightful cover, and good design inside. As for me, though, it left me hungry to find something more in-depth on the topic. Nevertheless, it did make me more enthusiastic about sitting down and actually writing a few letters, so I suppose it did its job!