Tag Archives: presentation; proceedings

Emma Harper (BMPA): A presentation on postal reforms in 19th-century Britain

An example of a curious address with a rhyme: ‘Now Postman take this letter and don’t get peeking in / It’s for Mr Stafford the Boss of Hatherley Inn / It’s near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire and he always has for sale/ Ginger pop and Lolliepops and some Jolly good old ale’

At the symposium What is a Letter? An interdisciplinary approach, Emma Harper, Curator at the British Postal Museum and Archive (London), gave a paper entitled ‘From cross-written letters to human ones: how postal reforms changed the letter’. Ms Harper has kindly agreed that we make her presentation available online.

It contains a range of images relating to letter-writing culture in nineteenth-century Britain, including a photo of a Penny Black (the world’s first postage stamp), of a pillar box from 1852/53, and of an envelope folding machine.

The letters shown in the presentation and more will be available to explore at the Museum’s new archive in 2016 (see www.postalmuseum.org for more information).

A note on ‘What is a letter?’ and Alan Scott’s presentation on ‘Letters 2.0’


As one might be able to glean from the photo above (which shows most our speakers and some of our delegates), the symposium ‘What is a letter? An interdisciplinary approach’, which took place from 2 to 4 July 2014 at St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford (Oxford, GB), was not just a very productive but also a truly enjoyable event.

Our heartfelt thanks for making the symposium such a success goes to the speakers, to the delegates, to the curators of the Bodleian Library (in particular Wilma Minty and Chris Fletcher), and last but not least to all St Edmund Hall staff who worked away in the background to help things run smoothly. Special thanks is also due to our sponsors: The John Fell Fund, The Leverhulme Trust, the TORCH network Enlightenment Correspondences and St Edmund Hall; without their support this conference would simply not have been possible.

A full conference report, together with more photos, will be made available on this blog, soon. The conference proceedings will be published in hard copy in due course.

In the meantime, our conference brochure with details on papers presented (in both English and German) and biobibliographical information on our speakers can be found here.

Some of our speakers have kindly agreed to share their presentations online. The first presentation, now available, is by Dr Alan Scott whose paper was entitled  Letters 2.0? Linguistic insights into the extent to which social media are a substitute for personal letters.