Curator Joanna opens five children's books in which letter writing plays an important role.

The same as in a blog featuring novels for adults, for a bonus postal link, all five books later featured on British postage stamps.

1. Postman Pat, John Cunliffe

Postman Pat, Classic Children’s TV, 2014

Maybe the most famous fictional letter carrier of them all, Postman Pat, along with his cat Jess, have made their rounds in the village of Greendale since the 1980s. As well as the cartoon, there are dozens of books about his adventurous deliveries.

‘Everybody knows his bright red van

All his friends will smile as he waves to greet them

Maybe; you can never be sure

There’ll be knock


Letters through your door’

Postman Pat theme tune

‘Tell the time with Postman Pat’ Book, 1994 (2002-0627)

2. The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Beatrix Potter

The Tale of Peter Rabbit, 2016

Peter Rabbit actually started out as an illustration Beatrix Potter drew on a letter to a friend’s child, who was ill with scarlet fever. The Tale of Peter Rabbit evolved from this letter and was first published in December 1901; it was an immediate success.

‘I don’t know what to write about so I shall tell you a story of 4 little rabbits, whose names were Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and Peter…’

3. Love from Paddington, Michael Bond

Paddington Bear, Classic Children’s TV, 2014

Children can open Paddington’s letters, sent to his aunt in Peru and read all about his new life in England.

Dear Aunt Lucy,
I expect this will come as a great surprise to you, but not only have I arrived in England, but I have an address! I’m staying at number 32 Windsor Gardens and it isn’t at all like the Home for Retired Bears…

4. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll

A Mad Tea-Party, Alice in Wonderland, 2015

The White Rabbit presents evidence to the King and Queen of Hearts at the trial of the naughty knave. It seems to be a letter, but is it?

`I haven’t opened it yet,’ said the White Rabbit, `but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to–to somebody.’

`It must have been that,’ said the King, `unless it was written to nobody, which isn’t usual, you know.’

`Who is it directed to?’ said one of the jurymen.

`It isn’t directed at all,’ said the White Rabbit; `in fact, there’s nothing written on the outside.’ He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added `It isn’t a letter, after all: it’s a set of verses.’

`Are they in the prisoner’s handwriting?’ asked another of they jurymen.

`No, they’re not,’ said the White Rabbit, `and that’s the queerest thing about it.’ (The jury all looked puzzled.)

`He must have imitated somebody else’s hand,’ said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.)

`Please your Majesty,’ said the Knave, `I didn’t write it, and they can’t prove I did: there’s no name signed at the end.’

`If you didn’t sign it,’ said the King, `that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you’d have signed your name like an honest man.’


Lewis Carroll published Eight or Nine Words about Letter Writing, 25 years after Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was released. His guide on how to begin, go on with, and end a letter instructs the potential letter writer to use legible handwriting and never carry letters in your pocket.

“When you take your letters to the Post, carry them in your hand. If you put them in your pocket you will take a long country-walk (I speak from experience), passing the Post-Office twice, going and returning, and, when you get home, will find them still in your pocket.”

Stamp case accompanying booklet entitled ‘Eight Or Nine Wise Words About Letter Writing By Lewis Carroll’. 1889 (OB1995.416/3)

The ‘Wonderland’ Postage Stamp Case, 1889 (OB1995.416/2)

5. Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter, 2018

Life at Hogwarts school starts with an acceptance letter, received by every wizard and witch on their 11th birthday. Once you get to school, be careful not to get into trouble, or you might end up receiving a howler: a magical letter that actually tells you off, very loudly, and gets hotter and hotter.

“We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on 1 September. We await your owl by no later than 31 July.”

Harry Potter’s acceptance letter, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Harry Potter, Presentation Pack, 2007

Have we missed any? Let us know via FacebookTwitter or Instagram. To make the list, the book must be both featured on a stamp and include a letter within its pages.

– Joanna Espin, Curator

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