Epistolary Writing Technologies

  • James Daybell
Part of the Early Modern Literature in History book series (EMLH)


The practical side of letter-writing was learned and disseminated through pedagogy, print and practice. Formal letter-writing skills formed a central part of the curriculum for boys at grammar school and university; classical epistolary models (as taught in Erasmus’s De conscribendis epistolis) were a staple for anyone educated beyond the elementary level. Girls of elite families too were schooled in letter-writing by tutors and governesses, and were encouraged to practise writing letters to develop a useful social skill. More broadly, the writing of letters by children to parents formed a crucial part of the process of socialisation that inculcated deferential codes of filial obedience. In addition to these formal methods of tuition, knowledge of the intricacies of letter-writing was gained from contact with the form and through an increasing body of vernacular epistolary manuals, which sought to distil, popularise and disseminate rules and protocols of humanistic letter-writing.


Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Material Letter Grammar School Latin Letter 
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Copyright information

© James Daybell 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Daybell
    • 1
  1. 1.Plymouth UniversityUSA

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