Lewis Carroll’s Rules for Letter Writing

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll.

  • 1st Rule. Write legibly.
  • 2nd Rule. Don’t fill more than a page and a half with apologies for not having written sooner! The best subject, to begin with, is your friend’s last letter.
  • 3rd Rule. Don’t repeat yourself.
  • 4th Rule. When you have written a letter that you feel may possibly irritate your friend, however necessary you may have felt it to so express yourself, put it aside till the next day. Then read it over again, and fancy it addressed to yourself.
  • 5th Rule. If your friend makes a severe remark, either leave it unnoticed, or make your reply distinctly less severe: and if he makes a friendly remark, tending towards “making up” the little difference that has arisen between you, let your reply be distinctly more friendly.
  • 6th Rule. Don’t try to have the last word!
  • 7th Rule. If it should ever occur to you to write, jestingly, in dispraise of your friend, be sure you exaggerate enough to make the jesting obvious: a word spoken in jest, but taken as earnest, may lead to very serious consequences.
  • 8th Rule. When you say, in your letter, “I enclose cheque for £5,” or “I enclose John’s letter for you to see,” leave off writing for a moment—go and get the document referred to—and put it into the envelope. Otherwise, you are pretty certain to find it lying about, after the Post has gone!
  • 9th Rule. When you get to the end of a notesheet, and find you have more to say, take another piece of paper—a whole sheet, or a scrap, as the case may demand: but whatever you do, don’t cross! Remember the old proverb Cross-writing makes cross reading.
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Lewis Carroll’s Rules for Letter Writing

  1. Most of that works for email writing and posting on the ‘tubes.

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