Letters of our lives
the Royal Mail Letters of our lives team / 11 April 2016
Unearthing the Letters of our Lives
Royal Mail is gathering an extraordinary archive of letters and postcards that will shed new light on our shared history.
Letters of our Lives is a nationwide search to discover long-forgotten letters and postcards that reveal our social and political history, as told by the people who lived it.
Why not contribute to the project? Take a look in your attic, rummage around your cellar and trawl through boxes of family mementos to unearth personal correspondence from the past. From heartfelt notes of love to eyewitness accounts of key moments in history, who knows what memories are waiting to be discovered and shared?
The Letters of our Lives team – who will review the submissions and select a rich cross-section to be shared with the nation – would like to receive handwritten letters or postcards relating to the following themes:
From a grandchild’s post-Christmas ‘thank you’ to a hastily scrawled copy of a secret recipe, passed down through generations – letters between relatives can reveal fascinating details of daily life.
The role of women
Private letters often shed light on changing social attitudes – perhaps you’ll uncover a relative who became the first female manager in her workplace, or a letter relating on-campus experiences of a student at one of the first university colleges for women.
Love and friendship
A feverish declaration of love from a would-be suitor. A romantic poem. Or even a Victorian ‘puzzle purse’ sent on Valentine’s Day. The language of courtship may have changed over the centuries, but old love letters still burn with an intensity undimmed by time.
Where on earth has your family been? Maybe their stories of holiday and adventure are told in sun-screen-scented postcards from Mediterranean coastal resorts, or leisurely letters written on the deck of ocean liners.
Personal achievements/life-changing moments
Handwritten congratulations on the arrival of new-born babies, first graduations, the passing of a driving test, or even a Knighthood or MBE. Now is the time to share and relive those proud moments.
People of note
Letters about people who’ve had an impact on the way we live our lives today. Recalling a glimpse of a leading lady at a premiere; a brief encounter with a Royal or a Prime Minister at the opening of a hospital; a chance to shake hands with a sporting hero at a charity fundraiser.
Moments in history
From first-hand accounts of VE Day to personal recollections of Royal weddings, historic voyages and great sporting victories – we are keen to receive any letter or postcard that offers an individual perspective on era-defining events.
War and conflict
Almost every family, at some point over the generations, will have been affected by conflict at home or abroad. Perhaps the personal impact of those struggles is captured in letters from front-line soldiers, saved in albums alongside fading photos, or tales of life on the home front – rationing, blackouts, evacuations.
Did your Great Aunt see the Beatles play the Cavern Club? Do your parents have a letter from friends who went wild at Woodstock? Or perhaps a note from a favourite children's author (complete with an illustration in the margin) in reply to heartfelt praise from a young reader.
Emigration and immigration
Individuals and families seeking refuge or new opportunities – an ever-present theme throughout history – as related in private letters describing the fear and excitement of starting a new life in another country.
How to submit your letters
Once you’ve unearthed a letter or postcard, there are two ways to submit them to the Letters of our Lives team – simply follow the steps below.
1. Go to: letters.royalmailgroup.com
2. Enter your details.
3. Tell us about your letter or postcard in 100 words or less.
4. Upload up to FIVE images of your letter or postcard.
5. Complete our declaration statement and agree to our terms and condition, then click ‘Submit your letter or postcard’.
1. Download and complete the submission form available to DOWNLOAD HERE.
2. Send the completed submission form and a copy* of your letter or postcard to:
Letters of our Lives,
Riverside House - Riverside Estate,
Sir Thomas Longley Road,
Medway City Estate,
*Please note that we cannot return originals, so if you post your submissions please only send us copies of the letters or postcards instead.