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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > May 2016 > I need to tell you…

I need to tell you…

Letters and other forms of communication offer a variety of useful opportunities in your fiction, explains Margaret James

It’s not so very long ago in terms of human history that there were no buses, trains or ocean-going liners, and people who were separated by only few miles, or even a few streets, had no choice – or sometimes no inclination – but to keep in touch with each other by letter.

Classic literature is full of letters, messages and notes, to the extent that back in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries whole novels were written in the form of letters to friends or confidantes. These classic epistolary novels include Samuel Richardson’s lugubrious Clarissa, Tobias Smollett’s entertaining Humphrey Clinker and Fanny Burney’s hilarious Evelina, perhaps the first situation comedy in English literature and still very readable today.

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