By Marjorie Edwards
Do you still write letters?
Despite the rise of instant communication via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, writing letters between people around the world is still very much alive and well, and in fact, penpal clubs nationally and internationally, report a new surge of interest in people requesting ‘snail mail’ penpals – and it’s not just the older generation either!
Over twenty years ago, Rosie Tholl, who edited a penpal magazine called Penpal News and Reviews, designated a special day for penpals. It’s called International Penpal Day and the date is June 1st every year. On that day, penfriends everywhere celebrate by writing a few extra letters, sending cards or getting in touch with their friends around the world in any way they can. Some meet each other, others get together for a reunion.
Rainbows Penpal Club, the largest one in the UK, has over 2000 members worldwide, and they regularly hold a reunion on June 1st which sometimes turns into a mini holiday! Some of the members are widows, housebound, or invalids for whom letters are a lifeline and their window to the outside world. But many more are ordinary, every-day housewives, mums, grans, or professional people who love to share news of their families, lives, outings, travels and hobbies with other like-minded people. Letter writing is not exclusive to women either - there are several male members too.
Many of the members have a penfriend story to tell – some have met and married their penpal; others have travelled thousands of miles to meet a friend who they have written to for many years; one lady in Northampton wrote to a German friend for nearly 50 years and then had the joy of meeting her when the Berlin Wall came down. Another lady wrote to a man in prison, visited him, fell in love and married him when he was released.
About Marjorie Edwards
During the course of 50 years of letter writing, Marjorie has met over 300 penfriends and has travelled some 75,000 miles around the world in the process. She travelled to Australia to meet a friend she had written to for 20 years, whom she knew had cancer – and made it just in time, as she sadly died 4 months after the visit. She has also recently found her very first penfriend again after losing touch over 40 years ago!
Marjorie is currently gathering many of her letters together for publication in a book to be published Autumn this year called ‘Write around the World.