Recycling a Novelty: Introducing the new Letters Page Aerogrammes 

Recycling a Novelty: Introducing the new Letters Page Aerogrammes

By Kristin Heng Schanke

Edited by: Annabel Wearring-Smith, Ben Stacey and Will Dawson 

Aerogramme prototypes put together by our production team, photo credit: Annabel Wearring-Smith

I must admit, when Jon first said the word aerogramme in one of our meetings earlier this winter, I had no idea what he was referring to. Jon must have noticed confused looks on a few other faces as well. He asked if we knew what an aerogramme was, to which he received a handful of hesitant head shakes.  

Just in case you’re as confused as I was, let me explain what Jon was talking about. Introduced in Britain during World War II, the word aerogramme is a fancier term for ‘air letter’; a convenient and inexpensive form of individual correspondence to overseas military personnel. The lightweight paper, which is gummed on all sides, folds and is sealed to form an envelope, with a distinctive red, white and blue trim around the edges. 

Jon explained it similarly and added a few jokes along the lines of ‘they were a little before your time’ and ‘it might be a bit of a generational thing’. 

A generational thing. I find it funny how you don’t know what will become generational things until they already are. Until someone younger comes along and sort of say, ‘this feels like a novelty’, when you think you’re just reminiscing. I remember when every teenager in the early 2010’s, me included, wanted one of those polaroid cameras. A Fujifilm Instax to be exact. I told my parents I wanted one, and my mum said ‘Oh, I remember those from when I was little!’. It was like recycled novelty. What I found to be cool because it was different and new to me, she experienced as a trip down memory lane.  

The aerogramme feels like a novelty to me, both the idea of giving them and certainly of receiving them. Maybe to you they’re simply reminiscent of a different time. Either way, I hope you’ll be intrigued to hear that The Letters Page are bringing them back.  

Naturally, we think about correspondence a lot here at The Letters Page. About how it gives meaning and how it can be given meaning. The act of receiving your letters to our office, from opening the carefully folded pieces of paper to reading those handwritten thoughts, is always such a delight. Though they may vary in content, the one thing they all have in common is that they provide us with an innate feeling of connection. Something intangible happens between reader and writer upon unfolding those pages. Something that can’t really be explained in words. 

So instead of trying to narrate the experience, we’ll be sending out letters from now on. All letters published by The Letters Page will from now on be printed and sent out in aerogramme format, and the only way to get one is to write to us. If we’ve published your letter in the past, you’ll receive a lifetime subscription to future aerogrammes. As will the authors of letters we publish in the future. Shortlisted authors will receive a year’s subscription, and other contributors will receive one aerogramme with an encouragement to write to us again (as many times as they want, an aerogramme will always follow).  

Whether receiving an aerogramme is novel to you or nostalgic, we hope this new format of The Letters Page is as exciting to you as it is to us. The first aerogramme will be sent out in a few weeks’ time. So, if you’ve written to us, keep an eye on your mailboxes (yes, your physical mailboxes, not online this time!), and there should be an aerogramme waiting for you. 

And if you’d like to receive future publications, all you have to do is write to us! We’ll always write back to you. 

The Letters Page team are back in the office, and ready to read your real letters again. We publish stories, essays, poems, memoir, reportage, criticism, recipes, travelogue, and any hybrid forms, so long as they come to us in the form of a letter. We are looking for writers of all nationalities and ages, both established and emerging. 

Your letter must be sent in the post, to : 

The Letters Page, School of English, University of Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK. 

See our submissions page for more information. 

To stay up to date on The Letters Page newsletter publication, subscribe here.