As this conference was postponed in April due to COVID-19, we have decided to reissue the CFP to allow new participants to submit an abstract. We have already accepted a lot of wonderful papers, but due to the changed dates there are now spaces for new papers!

Image by Debby Hudson for Unsplash


University of Northampton, 15 – 16 April 2021 

NB: This conference will ideally run in person, but if the current pandemic situation means that’s unwise we will run it online. It will definitely run! We will make a firm decision well ahead of time to give everyone plenty of time to plan.

Do consider coming to our conference! The University of Northampton has a lovely green campus only a fifteen minute walk from the train station. It is very easy to get to Northampton from major rail hubs: Birmingham (1 hour), London (1 hour), Reading (2 hours), Leeds (2h 15m). We are working hard to make the conference as cheap as possible for everyone to attend to make it as inclusive as possible. Our campus is accessible to wheelchair users, offers lactation spaces, and has an on-site hotel. Please contact us with any queries about accessibility!

Across history people have used letters to communicate. Letters were used in the exchange of news, emotions and opinions; they constructed networks, formed and destroyed friendships and relationships. Personal correspondence has been intrinsic to human society, bonding and breaking links between individuals, family and social groups.

Historians have been alert to the value of the contents of letters for a wide range of historical perspectives. Similarly we have fixed our gaze on the letters as objects and as processes. Much of this work, however, has concentrated on specific and often quite short periods. The eighteenth century has dominated the field, although women’s letters in the early modern period have also focused minds.

In this conference and in the planned resulting edited collection we will for the first time chart the development of the English language letter and other personal correspondence, which we define loosely as correspondence sent from a named individual to other named individual/s. Papers are invited on any social, cultural, economic or political theme, and we welcome contributions that interpret the medium of “correspondence” creatively. From the gentry letters of the late medieval period through to the rise of the postcard in the mid-nineteenth century to the prison pen pal services in the present day, personal correspondence takes many forms in material, cultural and generic terms.

While we have chosen to focus on English language correspondence for this collection, we welcome contributions that represent history beyond the United Kingdom and North America, and would particularly welcome contributions that centre BAME, LGBT and women’s voices.  We warmly welcome contributions from postgraduate and early career researchers. We are applying for funding to support travel and registration costs for ECR/postgraduate attendees, though we won’t be able to confirm the details of that for a little while.

We invite abstracts of a maximum 200 words to be submitted by Friday 30 October. 

All contributions and enquiries should be addressed to and

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