Inspirational Letters: The Letter that Changed Stephen Fry’s Life

As regular readers will know, I am reading through C.S. Lewis’ letters and will often post intriguing, inspirational, and occasionally hilarious bits from the his letters. I also read letters from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Dorothy L. Sayers, Dylan Thomas, E.B. White, and James Thurber. I love letters. I love the peak we get into someone else’s world. I love the voyeuristic nature of the literature, and the disarmed elegance of the correspondence. The wisdom and facts of history emerge naturally and accidentally into our contemporary imaginations.

Recently, The Guardian has begun an inspirational letter series, called Letters Live. Stephen Fry, an actor and narrator I quite like, was featured recently on Letters Live, speaking about the letter that changed his life. It is definitely worth watching.

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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12 Responses to Inspirational Letters: The Letter that Changed Stephen Fry’s Life

  1. robstroud says:

    It is certainly true that letters provide us with unique insights into to others that we could find nowhere else. That link was also quite interesting. Thanks.


  2. clisawork says:

    I have found that my writing sounds quite different when I write long hand than when I type it. When I send a letter I always write it even though my handwriting is atrocious. That time to think that it takes as I move my hand changes my thought process. I think that accounts for at least some of the difference we see in the thought process and writing style pre and post computer computer age in literature. When the words fly onto the screen at the speed of thought the thoughts that come out are different than when I have to move my hands to express my thoughts. Science backs this up I believe- recent studies show students remember more when they write notes, versus when they type notes in a class. It is a different brain process. This applies to letters I think, because a written letter I believe accesses memories and emotions differently than any email or twitter every could. That may seem obvious, but it is also a complicated process of brain processing as well. Sometimes when I cannot write I switch to a notebook and stop writing on a computer altogether. Every person’s brain works differently and yet at a fundamental level the connection between physical movement (writing) and brain function is fundamental. I don’t know, does this make sense or perhaps I’ve missed the mark with my observations?


    • Totally intriguing remarks. I wonder about longhand. It is great for sketching out a story, but I struggle to write the detail. I’m outlining a piece now, and feel like I’m at the point to sit down and hammer out words, sentences. I feel limited by hand.
      Can you write stories by hand?


      • clisawork says:

        Hi – I have never been able to do outlines ever. Hated them since 4th grade and was introduced to the research paper. Had to do an outline and note cards – barely survived the experience;-0 When I write longhand I write double space because the details come in the editing. My first draft is probably what you call outlining. I write till my hand cramps up, take a break, then go back and write back in all the details I missed in my rush to write. I slash through, write above, below, on the sides in the margins. Its messy. Part of the problem is I work through my thoughts on paper. It may take 5 – 10 pages and then suddenly I know what I want to say and then I scrap it and start to really write. I cannot outline – my ideas won’t fit in an outline. See – even this reply is messy and I’m typing it! Good luck with your writing!


        • What an intriguing approach to writing. I don’t know why, but the real detail for me happens with fingers on keys, while the ideas get jotted down by pen. My outlines aren’t really outlines, but more character sketches, background research, and a few key scenes. As I write, I will jot down the scenes that are coming up, but not always in the right order.


  3. Sue Archer says:

    I thought Stephen’s point about in-person communication as lies vs. letters as the truth to be thought-provoking. I’m not sure if I entirely agree, but I do think that we tend to express ourselves differently in writing and in some ways are more comfortable. Blogging is a case in point – I am okay to write to you here, but if I met you at a party I might not find anything to say. 😉


  4. Judy Ciotti says:

    Speaking of letters, I had read somewhere that T.S. Eliot’s letters to his long time romantic involvement in St. Louis (who requested that the letters not be publisihed until 5 years after her death) were due to be published. That was supposed to be in 2012. Have never heard anything?


  5. Most of the time i think that it takes as I move my hand changes my thought process. I think that accounts for at least some of the difference we see in the thought process and writing style pre and post computer computer age in literature.


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