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Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England$
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James Daybell

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199259915

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199259915.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 September 2021

The Functions of Letter-Writing

The Functions of Letter-Writing

(p.151) 6 The Functions of Letter-Writing
Women Letter-Writers in Tudor England

James Daybell (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the functional aspects of letters, arguing that the epistolary form was appropriated for an increasing variety of uses over the course of the 16th century. It also charts women's growing familiarity with letter-writing practices. The chapter begins by looking at the conveying of news in women's correspondence and the ways in which letters performed social courtesies. It examines the ways in which letters acted as gifts, maintaining that the nature of early modern correspondence made it a form of ritual gift-giving: the process of composing and sending a letter was itself an act of gift-giving, the present of a missive delivered from letter-writer to addressee. Finally, the chapter examines the more personal and introspective uses for which women employed letters; the ways in which they understood and articulated their lives, thoughts and experiences; and argues for letters as a material site for the ‘self’.

Keywords:   functional aspects, letter-writing practices, uses of letters, news, newsletters, social courtesy, letters as gifts, self, selfhood

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