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Letterwriting Manuals

Learning to write letters formed an integral part of early education, and letterwriting manuals provided students with hundreds of exemplary letters to use as models for all kinds of situations.


William Fulwood’s The Enimie of Idlenesse was the first letterwriting manual to be printed in English. Published in ten editions by 1621, it was essentially a translation of the French manual, Le Stile et manière de composer, dicter, et escrire toute sorte d’epistres (1566).  But perhaps the most influential English letterwriting manual was Angel Day’s English Secretarie . In it, Day insists that letterwriters should adhere to a new ABC—“Aptnes, brevity & comeliness”— in their letters and emphasizes the importance of letterwriting as a modern, social transaction.

William Fulwood. The enimie of idlenesse. London, 1568

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